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Beer in hand, Eli leaned back against the windowpane and sat cross-legged. She surveyed the room, picking out the new faces, forming her own opinions even though multiple opinions had been formed and discussed. As she savored the first sip of the beer, she pushed her hand through her hair--a habit she knew she'd picked up from one of her mothers but couldn't stop--and let it fall back perfectly to her chin. Things were just getting started, and she knew she wasn't going to be enjoying the moment to herself for much longer. But she didn't mind.

Dani wasn't exactly sure how she had managed to get an invite and she kept looking around for someone that she recognized from her classes, but she wasn't having much luck. She knew she couldn't be the only freshman -- first year, she corrected herself mentally— there, but it sure seemed like it. There were so many new faces that they all just blended into each other. Luckily, finding the beer was easier, and she wedged the bottle cap against one of her rings, using it to pry the top off. It was something that the Senator had taught her earlier that summer when Mom wasn't looking. It was as she was wandering around that she caught sight of Eli, and as she was the only other person in the room that seemed to be alone, Dani headed straight for her. "Hey, mind if I sit down?"

Eli raised her eyebrows and quietly looked the girl over. She knew a lot of the first years; it was that time of year where they were still excited about trying to take part in organizations and meet new people and integrate into life there. And she happened to be on the boards of many of those organizations. But she hadn't met this girl before, even though she knew her somewhat by sight. "Be my guest," she said, pursing her lips before lifting the beer to them.

Sliding down next to her, Dani her legs out in front of her, crossing them at the ankles. "I'm Dani, by the way." She didn't know if she should offer her hand or not and hesitated somewhere in between before finally decided to go for it. The older girl kinda looked familiar, as if she had said something at orientation or something.

"Eli Cabot-LaRue," she replied taking Dani's hand and shaking it firmly. There was an easy air to the way Eli gave her name, almost as if it was something she had perfected to the point where it seemed natural. That had been the original goal, anyway, and she'd started in her last year of high school in preparation for college. She turned her attention back to the room, noting that Dani was certainly one of the more bold first years there. Some of the rest were starting to clump together in little nervous groups.

The last name sounded vaguely familiar, but Dani knew far too many people with vaguely familiar last names for that to really mean anything. "Cool. It's nice to meet you." She smiled as she sipped her beer and tried to remember everything she had ever seen the Senator do to put people at ease and make them talk to her. Very little of it seemed useful in a practical sort of way though.

"You as well. Did I see you at the Athletic Association's table at the organization fair last week?" she asked, remembering where she had seen the face. Nevermind that she was manning the table beside it, but that was beside the point. It was an entryway into a conversation, and Eli was either going to have a conversation with Dani or get up and find someone more interesting if that was the better option.

"Uh, yeah. Maybe. I keep trying to find some sort of sport that I'm good at, so I thought I would see what my options are. But I don't remember seeing you there...?" Dani could remember the girl who was at the table, they had Logic together, but she couldn't remember seeing Eli there. But there were a lot of people around and she hadn't been paying attention to everyone who brushed past her.

"Next table over...SGA," Eli said, taking another sip of her beer. She spotted one of the new rugby hopefuls across the room--the one that she and at least ten other juniors and seniors had spotted from day one. Eli kept an eye on her as she gave Dani a polite but charming smile. "So...have you found one you're good at yet?" Of course, she was of the opinion that it was a little late for that in college.

"Nope, but I'll settle for one that doesn't leave me with any broken bones." Dani smiled back and followed Eli's gaze across the room, then shook her head when she realized just who Eli was looking at. "And you're wasting your time with her. Jane's practically engaged already. Her room's next to mine and she spends at least an hour every night on the phone with him. I can hear it through the wall. She just scared that if she lets on she won't get on the rugby team because they'll think she's too straight."

Eli raised her eyebrows and couldn't help but smirk as she took a last look at Jane. Then, she turned her body half way towards Dani. She still wasn't willing to close herself off to everyone else in the room just yet, but this first year just got a little bit more interesting. "Is that so? Anything else I should know?"

Dani shrugged, blushing slightly. She had a tendency to talk too much when she didn't know what else to do with herself and it only occurred to her afterwards that Jane might not appreciate her telling someone that was practically a stranger her secrets. And she wasn't completely blind to just how attractive Eli was, particularly now that she had more of her attention. "Not that I can think of, but I'll be sure to let you know if anything comes up."

"Yeah, I'm sure," Eli replied, still smirking. She finished her beer and began to pick at the label thoughtlessly. "So, tell me something about yourself..." She cocked her head, smirk becoming a charming smile.

"About myself?" Dani furrowed her brow in thought. People often wanted to know things about her mothers, things she was very careful not to talk about, but no one ever wanted to know anything about her. She was completely unprepared for the question and she seized on the first thing that came to her. "I'm from New York, er... Manhattan," she said and then winced as she realized how incredibly lame that was. She took another sip of her beer as cover and to stop herself from saying anything equally stupid.

"Yeah, me too," Eli replied as she rolled the bottle between her palms. She laughed lightly. "Go figure." She turned her body to the room again. The last thing she needed was a first year wanting to coordinate trips home or talk about the cool places that they both might have been too. That was complicated, and she didn't go to these parties for complicated.

"Cool. I haven't really spent much time there, though. I went to high school in D.C." Over both of her parents objections. It was the first fight with them that she had managed to win. And something about New York seemed to make Eli uncomfortable, so Dani figured that it was better to change the subject anyway. "So, SGA? You're the... vice president? Right?" That must have been where Dani knew her from.

"Mmhm." She flashed another smile, this one entirely polite. "DC...what's the story on that?" Eli was a few seconds away from wandering off to get another beer, possibly finding someone interesting between where she was and there, but she had to admit that Dani was...hot. She was model hot, and sometimes, when it came to these things and the first years and the first few months of school, it was okay to be shallow.

Dani took a deep breath. "My mother is a senator... One of my mothers." She hated having to tell people, knowing that as soon as she did, any interest in her would disappear, but she wasn't going to lie about it either. That would only cause even bigger headaches.

"Cool." Eli shrugged. Of course she would meet the one lesbian first year from Manhattan who also happened to have two mothers. But she caught Dani's tone and sensed resignation there. She knew that kind of resignation in a way. Her moms weren't senators, but they did take some pretty high profile cases now and then. "Look, I'm going to go get another beer. You can come, and we can find something more interesting to talk about than Manhattan or how we both have two moms...or I'm sure I can introduce you to a few people who won't give a shit who your mother is if you'd like that better."

Dani smiled slightly, a tight part of her stomach slowly relaxing. "I think I'd like another beer." She got up and offered a hand to Eli, even if the other girl clearly didn't need the help.

"Thanks." Eli took her hand and stood, noting at once that she hadn't realized just how tall Dani was. Those legs were definitely worth the trip to the cooler. She pulled out two bottles and offered one to Dani before she started hunting around for the bottle opener.

Dani popped the top from her bottle and held it out to Eli. "Here," she said, offering it in exchange for the one Eli hadn't managed to open yet.

"That's a neat trick..." Eli leaned against the counter as she watched. She licked her lips thoughtfully as she accepted the bottle

"Thanks." Dani smiled as she opened the second bottle and took a sip. "The Senator showed me how to do it this summer. She said it works better when your class ring has an anchor on it, but I'm pretty sure that was just a last ditch effort to get me to go to Annapolis."

"Shit..." Eli was laughing, foiling her own attempts to get the bottle to her lips. She just realized...she couldn't believe it actually. She just really placed Dani, and it was completely weird, completely a fluke. "I voted for your mom."

Dani's smile turned slightly uncomfortable. "Well, I'm sure if she was here she'd say thank you."

"My brother, Theo," Eli began as she grabbed Dani's hand and began to lead her across the room in search of a quieter place, "secretly has a crush on one of your moms, I think." It was too bad that Dani wasn't straight and was totally her newest makeout conquest, for the beginning of the night at least, or she might have considered setting the two of them up.

Dani wrinkled her nose up at the thought of anyone having a crush on either of her mothers. "I, uh, yeah. That's funny, I guess." She looked at Eli uncertainly. "I'm sorry. They're just... my parents. It's really hard for me to think of them like that, at all. But if your brother wants an autograph or something..."

Eli grinned and pulled Dani down onto a loveseat that was being ignored. "I don't think Theo would be very happy about this conversation, even if it resulted in that. But thanks." She smiled as she held her beer by the neck and let it dangle there as she gave Dani her full attention.

"Then we just won't tell him about it." Dani licked her lips, trying to be more alluring, though she was pretty sure that it wasn't coming off well. The love seat in the quiet corner didn't leave Eli's intentions particularly opaque, so really it was just a question of who would make the first move. Dani didn't know if she had the nerves for it to be her.

"I'm pretty sure you don't want to talk about your mothers. I did promise you more interesting conversation," Eli quipped, smirking as she leaned closer to Dani. She could tell the brunette was thinking about it, but drawing it out was a fun game for the time being.

"I don't know that I'm really interested in talking anymore." Dani licked her lips once more before she closed the distance between them and pressed her lips to Eli's.

The move was a pleasant surprise, but Eli met the kiss with force, just to make sure that Dani knew who was in charge of the situation. She shifted her body closer and wrapped an arm around the girl, rubbing her palm down her side.

"Mmm." Dani opened her mouth under Eli's, wrapping her fingers around the back of Eli's neck and meeting her force. Her stomach had dropped the second that Eli kissed her back and now her skin was tingling pleasantly.

When it became absolutely necessary to breathe, Eli pulled away just enough to put her beer down, returning only to kiss Dani again as she put her now free hand on the brunette's waist. She shifted until she was straddling her, making sure that she would be Dani's only focus.

Dani dug her fingers into Eli's hips, pulling her even closer as she pushed up to meet the kiss. She could feel the heat from Eli's center against her stomach and it made her wish that they were someplace more private, even as the still rational part of her brain said that it was probably good that they weren't. Indiscriminate sex and being a senator's daughter didn't go well together. Even in her mind the words had her mother's accent on them. But they didn't stop her from pushing her hands under Eli's shirt in order to feel more of her skin.

Eli certainly didn't mind the touch, but she took it as an invitation. She pressed her own hands underneath Dani's shirt, pushing them up, stopping with one on the girl's ribs and cupping one of her breasts with the other. She knew her body was blocking most of the room's view, so she worked her fingers under Eli's bra and started to roll her nipple between them.

"Christ." Dani pushed into Eli's fingers, even as she panicked slightly and grabbed Eli's arm to pull it away. If even one other person in the room could see, it was one too many. "Not here." She pulled Eli's head down for another strong, but all too brief kiss, before she pushed her aside and got up. Her breath was still coming quickly and every one of her instincts wanted her to go back to Eli and tear her clothing off. But she wasn't going to fuck up a week into her first semester. She just wasn't.

Eli sat back and raised her eyebrows. She wasn't about to leave the party yet, and she wasn't about to hop into bed with one of the first years that she was pretty sure was going to end up a sought after piece of ass leaving a lot of girls disappointed. But making out with Senator Hamilton's daughter had been fun. She slowly picked up her beer and took a sip before standing. "See you around, Dani," she said as she sauntered by her, stopping to kiss her on the cheek. "Have a good semester."

"You too." It was an automatic rejoinder. Dani was far too preoccupied to really pay attention to what Eli had said.

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Dani wrapped her coat around herself even more tightly before she slumped down between the tree's roots. Her roommate was in the middle of studying for her sight singing final and it wasn't exactly the sort of test that lent itself to being quiet. And Dani really just wanted to be alone. There were too many memories in her room anyway. She hadn't had a chance to get Claire's stuff back to her yet, so it just kept sitting there, reminding her that everything was over.

"Hey..." Eli had seen Dani slumping there, but she didn't realize it was her until she got closer. It was cold, and she was headed back from returning books to the library after having finished a paper...and she really just wanted to get back to her room. But a girl sitting alone on the ground in the cold just...couldn't be good. "Dani...you'll catch your death down there." She smiled and offered a hand.

"I'm fine. Really." Dani just pulled her legs closer to her body and thought about how the lack of privacy on a college campus was kind of amazing. "Thanks for the offer though." Not that Eli had really offered much besides a hand up. Still, it never hurt to be polite.

Eli furrowed her brow. She knew people dealt with things in all sorts of ways, some of which weren't healthy. She'd grown up in a household with parents that still sometimes threw temper tantrums or flew off the handle or sulked silently. And when she'd found out how Alex and Patrice worked it out, she sometimes wished she hadn't. But she knew how to tell when someone was dealing with something, even if she didn't always know when to leave it alone. "Seriously...you shouldn't stay out here...come on..."

Dani sighed. "You're not going to stop until I get up, are you?" Rather than waiting for the obvious answer, Dani just brushed the undersides of her eyes with her coat sleeve and took Eli's hand. "I'm up. Happy now?"

"No..." Eli smiled and looped her arm through Dani's. "Can you walk me back to my house? I'm afraid I'll get sidetracked otherwise." It was utter bullshit, and she really didn't care. Dani looked totally forlorn, and Eli instantly felt bad for her. She hadn't been keeping up, so she had no idea what happened. But she could guess.

"That's bullshit and you know it," Dani responded, but she let herself be pulled along. She didn't have the energy to fight Eli when she had her mind set on something. She'd learned that in SGA meetings, as she had somehow gotten roped into being one of the first-year senators despite her objections.

Dani's penchant for calling bullshit was one of the reasons Eli had flirted with one of the girl's classmates until she agreed to nominate Dani for the senator's position in the first place. She just smiled to herself as she led Dani back to her house and to her room. When she closed the door, she simply flopped on the bed and patted the spot beside her. "So..."

"So...?" Dani shook her head as she took her coat off and leaned against the door. She didn't feel like being particularly forthcoming and she wished that Eli would just leave her alone.

"So do you want to talk about what's going on or not? Because I'm pretty sure that if you leave here, you're probably just going to end up sitting in a wet pile of leaves again, and I'm not going to be responsible for that." Eli patted the spot again, more forcefully this time.

"I don't, really." But Dani sat down anyway. Her limbs were starting to thaw out and it was making her fingertips tingle. She had forgotten her gloves when she had fled her room and she flexed her fingers, trying to make the feeling go away faster.

Eli sighed and wrapped her arm around the girl's shoulders. Dani felt so slight against her, and she pulled her close, knowing she was still cold. "Okay...we'll just sit here, then."

Dani sighed as she curled into Eli's very warm body, trying not to think about just how good that body might feel under other circumstances. It wasn't appropriate. "She was just using me to try to get an internship." She didn't know why she admitted it so readily. Maybe she did want to talk about it.

"Oh, God..." Eli put her head on Dani's and hugged her close. She was sure the senator was used to having all sorts of people try to use her. And she was sure that Dani would have to deal with the same thing, if she hadn't before, but first year during finals...with a girl that Eli knew she'd really liked...that just wasn't fair. "I'm sorry," she said softly.

"Thanks." Dani sighed again, resting a hand on Eli's knee. "I just... I feel like I should have seen it coming, you know? It isn't like this is the first time something like this has happened." It just hurt more.

"You shouldn't have to deal with that kind of bullshit happening..." Eli said forcefully. She knew that wouldn't stop it, but it was true. "Anyway, she was a twit who really didn't deserve you."

Dani chuckled. "Thanks. I just..." She shook her head, trying to figure out the right words. "I thought that she really liked me. And I was fine, really, until I finished studying for my calculus final and I looked up and all of her stuff was still there." She tucked an escaped strand of hair behind her ear, then pulled the sleeves of her sweatshirt over her hands, just wanting to be able to hang on to something.

"Look..." Eli didn't know why she was doing this, but she meant the offer in earnest, "why don't I make us some hot chocolate, and we can watch a movie. And I'll walk you back over to your house and help you get rid of her crap, okay?" Any other girl, and she would have been asking her to stay the night, but Dani looked too lost.

Dani thought about the offer and nodded slowly. "Yeah. I'd like that." She smiled slightly, pushing her hair behind her ear again, then just giving up and pulling her ponytail down. "Just... nothing scary. Horror movies freak me out, and not in a sexy, 'I want you to hold me' way. In a 'I won't be able to sleep for a week' way. Even the bad ones." Dani bit her lip.

Eli laughed lightly before she kissed the top of Dani's head and got up. "The DVDs are over there," she said, pointing to a small bin. "Pick something out, and I'll make that hot chocolate." And she would also make sure that they weren't disturbed and that Dani wasn't teased for being there. It wasn't like that, and if she said it wasn't like that, no one was going to argue with her...to her face at least.

Chapter Text

Patrice and Alex's room always smelled faintly of some type of perfume. Eli knew it was the sachets Patrice kept in certain drawers, but there was something about it that always seemed vaguely mystical. Whenever she first stepped in, if they weren't there, she always felt hushed at first. But she had no qualms going in to find the things she needed. Alex was big on privacy, but Patrice didn't mind if Eli went through the closet if she needed something. Well, she didn't mind if Eli was careful not to make a huge mess…or a mess of the size that Alex might notice.

She had a date that night, and she just wasn't feeling anything in her wardrobe. Half of it was already packed for college anyway, and the date was with an older girl. Eli wanted something a little more sophisticated. In truth, it was always Alex's clothes she ended up in, but she was looking through Patrice's shoes, trying pairs on and admiring her legs in the full-length mirror.

Once she'd picked out the pair she wanted, she chanced to go through Patrice's jewelry. Neither of her mothers would be home for a while, and she doubted they would notice one pair of earrings or a necklace missing. As she tried pieces on, lengthening her neck in the mirror to see necklaces, she could see why people told her she looked like Alex. But she saw a lot of Patrice in herself too, and she liked it that way. She liked knowing that she had parts of both of them, no matter where her DNA came from.

Eli had left the closet door open, and she could see in the mirror the small box that held her parents' sex toys. She had found that sometime in high school, and it freaked her out enough that she didn't really look past the dildo and blindfold that were at the top. But as she pulled a pair of earrings out of her ears, her curiosity got the better of her. Her parents had a healthy sex life, and she was okay with that. She had a healthy sex life too.

As she took the box out, Eli sank to the floor, sitting cross-legged. Everything in the box was relatively neatly placed. Eli chuckled when she saw the strap on and decided that one might be cool to save for sometime later in the summer. The rest didn't surprise her until she got to the cuffs. They just seemed…really nice, better than the average junk someone might buy if they were only vaguely interesting.

She felt color rising in her cheeks, and she tried incredibly hard not to imagine what they were doing with the cuffs. And that's when Eli found the two thin, black boxes at the bottom. They looked like necklace boxes from a nice jeweler, and when she opened the first, she laughed outright. A leather collar. The other box had another of a slightly different make, and Eli just stared at them for a moment, chuckling to herself.

While Alex and Patrice's sex life was still active, she had no idea just how actively kinky it was or had been. The collars didn't look like they'd been worn in a while. She ran her fingers over the leather, appreciating how soft it was. She lifted one out, and that was when she saw the silver plate on the back and felt that it was engraved. Eli smiled, expecting to find the engraving to be Alex and Patrice's initials. But when she saw the elaborate E and D, she furrowed her brow.

E.D…

"Oh shit…" Eli gasped, blushing brightly as she put the collar back. Elizabeth Donnelly.

She wasn't sure whether she needed to laugh or be completely and thoroughly embarrassed. But Eli knew she didn't need to know much more about her Aunt Liz and what her relationship to her parents had been. She knew she should just put everything back right then and not think about it, but Eli was taking out the other collar, searching for the silver plate. She found none, and that only made her curiosity stronger. It was pretty obvious—and she really didn't want to think why that was so—that the first collar was Alex's. And if Patrice's didn't say anything… Eli rubbed her head as she put the collar back. Maybe one day she would ask…or do some digging. Probably not. But maybe.

She carefully put everything back in the box, pausing over the strap on. Another day…when she could process.

Chapter Text

"No. You're just wrong." Dani put her hand over the paper that Eli was reading off of. "Just admit that you're wrong, throw that damned piece of paper away, and lets move on." Dani blew out a breath in frustration. They had already run off the rest of the committee, but Eli just couldn't let the argument go.

"Dani," Eli said, putting both of her hands on the table, splaying her fingers out as if she was about to explain something with them. "Calm down. There's no sense in getting like this. You need to step back and take a breath because you are clearly missing the point." She pursed her lips and waited, as was her habit, expectantly for Dani to relent...just as everyone else always did.

"No, I'm not, and stop patronizing me." It wasn't Eli's words that bothered her, just... something about her attitude, as if Eli just expected everyone to agree with her just because. "All of your numbers are off. All of them." Dani refused to back down, if anything, getting closer.

"No," Eli said, voice tight as she leaned on her forearms and stared Dani down, "they're not. Look, I'm done discussing this..." She pursed her lips as she pushed away from the table and stood. "You'll get it once you've been doing this longer."

Dani gaped for minute, just staring at Eli. "You don't just get be done." She grabbed Eli's arm to keep her from walking away. "Last time I checked, we still had to vote on things, and if I have to bring this up for another vote to get you to admit that you're bad at math, I will. You don't just get to make pronouncements and have everyone agree with you. And you certainly don't get to imply that I'm just some dumb kid and have me still be your friend afterward."

"Damnit, Dani..." Eli rolled her eyes in exasperation and turned back to the brunette, pulling her arm away. That put her closer to Dani than was polite, but that had happened more than a few times in the past month. Dinner over Christmas hadn't gone anywhere, but the potential was still there. And finally, if only to get her to shut up--which is what Eli told herself--she grabbed the brunette's face and pulled her into a kiss.

Dani automatically opened her mouth to the kiss, her free hand coming around the back of Eli's head and holding her there as they pressed their bodies together. But Dani only let it continue for a minute before she pulled away. They had been dancing around this for weeks, ever since spring semester had started, a subtle tension building each time they talked to each other. Now that Dani had finally stopped fighting it, she was almost desperate to fell Eli's hands on her skin, skin that suddenly felt too warm. "This doesn't mean you've won," she said before she pulled Eli back down into another kiss, pressing forward into her without any regard for where they were.

"Shut up, Dani," Eli hissed as she broke the kiss and pushed the brunette back to the table, knocking over a chair along the way. She pushed her hands underneath Dani's shirt, drawing in a jagged breath at the feel of her skin as she reached around her back and unhooked her bra.

"Oh fuck you." Dani tried to stay mad, but words said that breathlessly lost their sting. She slid on to the table and immediately started reaching for the buttons on Eli's jeans, expertly popping them open while Eli finished with her bra. Once that was done, she pulled Eli in for another kiss as she pushed her hand inside Eli's pants and caught at her lips with her teeth.

Eli smirked as she pushed her hands under Dani's bra, cupping her breasts and running her thumbs over her nipples as she pushed her hips forward. "Yeah, that's a better use of your time," she said before kissing the brunette hard.

"Shit." Dani arched into Eli's touch as she wrapped her legs around her, using them to pull her closer. Not to be outdone, she slipped her hand under Eli's, Christ, boxer-briefs, it was a really good thing she hadn't know about those earlier, and started pushing her fingers between Eli's lips, trying to find her clit at the very awkward angle. Her wris ached, but her fingers were slippery with Eli's wetness and she wondered if Eli had been anticipating this as much as she had. Dani wouldn't put it past her to purposefully screw up the numbers, just to get Dani going.

"Mmm..." Eli nipped at Dani's neck as she pushed, forcing her to lie back on the table and drop her legs. She quickly withdrew her hands and undid the girl's jeans, pulling them off only to follow them with Dani's panties. As much as she wanted to be touched, she wasn't going to let Dani do it until she was done. In the back of her mind, she knew she should lock the door, but as she pressed her fingers into Dani, she simply couldn't be bothered to go anywhere else.

"Jesus fuck." It was one of the Senator's favorite curses, but Dani had never had a reason to utter it during sex before. Of course, she'd never had sex quite this frantic before. She arched up into Eli's fingers. "Come here," she growled as she reached for Eli, hand fisting in her shirt as she used it to pull her down on top of her.

"Don't be so bossy," Eli growled back, staying only long enough to kiss Dani and nip at her jaw before she moved down her body. She covered the one of the brunette's breasts with her free hand, tweaking her nipples before moving away, kissing down her stomach only to move on to nipping her thighs before she started to lick her in earnest.

By the time Eli's tongue touched her clit, Dani was beyond trying to say anything. Eli had reduced her to moans and whimpers that got increasingly louder as she got closer to coming, until she finally had to bite her lip lest anyone overhear. When she finally came, it was almost soundless, though she suspected that there were teeth marks in the skin under her lower lip. "Fuck." Dani was panting and trying to make the room stop spinning, even if the unbalance was particularly appealing.

"Shit," she sat up quickly and reached out to Eli to keep from falling over as she found her panties and jeans, puling on the latter and stuffing the former into a pocket. "There's another meeting in here in 15 minutes." Rather than waiting for Eli's reaction, she just grabbed her hand and pulled her from the room.

Even as she was hastily, one handedly buttoning her jeans, Eli was grinning as she licked her lips. She wiped her face and leaned in, giving Dani a quick kiss on the cheek. As far as she was concerned, she'd won.

Dani glared at the kiss, but she didn't stop dragging Eli toward Eli's thankfully roommate free room. "If anyone heard or saw anything, I'm blaming it on you." She had to stop at the door, but rather than wait for Eli to unlock it, she just reached into Eli's pocket and pulled out her keys. She opened the door herself, then shoved Eli toward the bed.

"Why so worried?" Eli stumbled but she recovered herself and stretched out, resting her head on her hands. She continued to smirk at just how frantic Dani was. It was actually kinda cute.

"Have you ever ended up on the cover of a tabloid? Because that was the follow up to the first date that I ever went on. It may feel like we live in a bubble here, but I'm not so delusional as to believe it's true." Dani knew that she was being irrational, that there was no way that anyone had seen them, but panic and the hormones and the almost irresistible need to touch Eli weren't combining well, and left her feeling more like punching the other girl, than kissing her.

"Well, you're not in public now..." Eli said as she pulled Dani close and kissed her hard, reminding her that they weren't done.

"Mphmm." There was something about the kiss that made Dani melt, and she stopped trying to push Eli away, clinging to her instead. When the kiss ended, she stayed close, temporarily needing the reassurance as she looked up into Eli's eyes. "Right," she whispered, her voice soft and low as her hands went to the hem of Eli's shirt and she started to pull it off.

"Right..." Eli grinned and finished the job, quickly unbuttoning her jeans and squirming out of them. She paused over the waistband of her boxer brief, deciding to leave them be for the time being, as Dani had had such a good response to them. "Where were we?" She licked her lips.

Dani chuckled slightly and got up, taking a step away from the bed before she pulled her own top off, then started unfastening her jeans. She didn't often trade on her looks, but that didn't mean she wasn't aware of just how attractive she was, and if ever there was a situation where it was appropriate, this was it. Eli was getting far too cocky. "I think we were somewhere around here." She stood there for a moment, smirking down at Eli.

"Shit," Eli muttered, putting her hands behind her head again as she simply just took Dani in. Those legs... She would almost skip being touched just to touch them again, but Eli saw no reason why she couldn't have her cake and eat it too. "C'mere," she said, voice thick.

"Now who's being bossy?" Dani sank to the foot of the bed and slowly crawled up Eli's body, pausing when she got to the juncture of her thighs and bending to press her tongue against the front of Eli's underwear. They really were incredibly hot and Eli was incredibly hot in them.

Eli moaned at the image. She couldn't help it. If Dani kept surprising her like this, she could definitely see this turning into more than just a once or twice kind of thing. She arched her hips and let one of her hands fall, tangling in the brunette's thick hair.

"Mmm." Dani kept crawling upward, nipping at Eli stomach, then taking one of her nipples into her mouth. She rolled it between her lips and her tongue, taking her time on it before she switched to the other.

"God...Dani..." Eli found herself squirming underneath the brunette, and she wrapped her legs around her, pulling her closer. "Don't be such a fucking tease..."

"Maybe you should stop being so impatient." It wasn't her fault that Eli had wanted to make her come so quickly. If she had been able to immediately reciprocate, she probably wouldn't have thought to make Eli wait, so really, it was her own fault. Plus, she had been insufferably arrogant. Having to wait would do her good. She tugged at the waistband of Eli's underwear, as if she might pull them off, only to snap the elastic against her stomach instead.

Eli pursed her lips and grabbed the back of Dani's neck, holding it tightly as she pulled her in for a firm kiss. She pressed her hips up and held Dani close, letting a moment hang between them.

Dani pulled away slightly. "Do you want me to touch you or not?" She had just let Eli fuck her in a meeting room, so she expected a little courtesy in return.

"Yes," Eli growled before kissing her again and letting her go. "Yes, I want you to fuck me, Dani." It was as close to "please" as she was ever going to get.

"Then stop complaining, sugar." A hint of an accent tugged on her last word as Dani hauled off Eli's underwear and pushed her leg between Eli's. She moaned lightly as she felt how wet the other girl was, and pushed down harder.

Eli moaned and grabbed Dani's hips, steadying herself until she found a rhythm. She wasn't sure how she felt about Dani making her work for it, but at that point, she was past any sort of banter. Dani's skin, her long legs felt too good.

"God, you feel good." Dani kissed Eli hard and slid a hand under her thigh, pushing her fingers into Eli, her palm flat against Eli's clit.

"Yeah..." Eli murmured, squirming into the touch. "Mm...God...yeah..." She moaned and pulled Dani down into a kiss, not wanting to let her go. And when she began to come, she tightened her grip around the slender girl.

"That's it." Dani pressed herself even more tightly against Eli, holding her through her climax. When Eli finally relaxed, Dani pulled her hand away and with a mischievous look, started licking her fingers clean.

"Shit..." Eli began to rub slow circles on Dani's hips as she watched intently. "You don't do anything half way do you, babe?"

"Mmm, is there some reason I should?" Dani threw a leg over Eli's hips and rested her head on Eli's shoulder. "You should put those boxer-briefs back on, just... not yet. I don't feel like moving."

"Oh yeah?" Eli raised her eyebrows as she ran her fingers up Dani's side and down again to touch her thigh. She certainly knew her own physical appeal, but Dani seemed more than interested in the aesthetic.

"You look hot in them, but then you knew that already." Dani shivered under the touch, but she stayed where she was. "And as I'm sure that I'm not going to get to do this again, I'm going to take advantage while I can." She knew Eli's reputation well enough to know that relationships weren't a part of it.

"You might be surprised..." Eli smirked as she slipped away from Dani and pulled the underwear back on. She laid back, deliberately far from Dani so she could look at her.

Dani chuckled and happily enjoyed the view. "Have I managed to impress the un-impressible Elizabeth Cabot-LaRue? Be still my beating heart." She rolled her eyes and snapped the waistband of Eli's underwear again. It was going to be a while before that got old.

Eli caught Dani's hands and pushed her back onto her back, pushing her wrists up above her her head and smirking as she held them with one hand. "I wouldn't go that far, pretty girl, but you're getting there."

"Mmm." Dani practically purred, not putting up a fight. "Did you want me to be a good girl for you, Eli? Or a bad one?" She smirked, not sure what she would do with either answer.

Underestimated was completely an understatement when it came to how Eli had assessed Dani. She had to suppress her moan, as ever image conscious as she was, almost letting it slip out instead of the simple shudder than ran through her. "I'm not sure you've really demonstrated that you can be a good girl..."

"I let you fuck me on a table, didn't I?" Dani wriggled under Eli's gaze. "And I don't remember you saying that you wanted me to be good." She didn't know what exactly possessed her to say any of it, but it was too late to turn back now. Her mouth was running away from her and she really hoped that it didn't get her into anything she couldn't handle.

Eli licked her lips and kissed Dani hard as she pressed her body against the length of Dani's. She nipped at the girl's jaw and then her neck before tweaking one of her nipples firmly. "You talk too much."

Dani gasped at the slight pain and arched up into Eli. "Fuck." She tangled her legs with Eli's and tried to move her hands.

Smirking, Eli trailed her fingers down Dani's side and pressed them between her legs, twisting them through the short curls there. "I don't know...not sure you deserve it..."

"Shit." Dani's body reacted automatically to the touch, jumping up to meet Eli's hand. "Eli..." Her voice turned breathy and she couldn't understand just how she had gotten so aroused so quickly.

"Yes?" Eli kept her hand there, waiting, teasing. She leaned close to Dani so that their lips were just touching.

"Are you going to fuck me or not?" Dani had to grab onto the headboard to stop herself from grabbing Eli. She didn't have a script for this sort of thing, and she didn't know what Eli was expecting. She was very truly in over her head, but it felt so fucking good that she didn't want it to stop.

"Mmhm," Eli murmured before kissing Dani almost too softly. "And I want everyone to know it too..." She slid two fingers into the brunette, turning her hand to catch her clit with her thumb. And she wasted no time in kissed down Dani's chest to take one of her nipples between her teeth.

"Oh fuck," Dani whimpered, more to herself that for Eli benefit. She knew that Eli normally got what she wanted and she had a feeling that it was going to apply to this too. She tried to bite her lip but that only lead to a sharp look from Eli, so she stopped. "Please, don't..." She would die of embarrassment, but something about that only made her want Eli to succeed.

"I wanna hear you," she whispered as she slowed her pace, lifting the thumb. "Come on, Dani..."

Dani shook her head, even as she tried to press down against Eli's fingers. "No..." she whined. "No, fuck, please." What had started as a whispered mantra was getting louder until she was just saying please over and over again, her face growing hot once she realized that she couldn't stop herself, that she liked it, that she was begging for something entirely different than what she had started out wanting.

Eli was grinning as she started again, fully intent on making Dani come quickly and come hard. She didn't care about drawing it out, and she really didn't care about who heard and who didn't. She was getting what she wanted. "That's it," she whispered as she nipped at Dani's collarbones.

"Eeeeeelllliiii." Dani moaned her name as her climax hit, and any hope she had of staying quiet, or of hanging onto the headboard were gone. She grabbed Eli and held her with bruising force and she continued to shake. Her eyes were wide as she buried her face in Eli's neck and muttered, "shit."

"Uh huh," Eli said contentedly as she settled half on top of Dani, tangling their legs together. "You can go over the numbers on that budget later, mmkay?"

"You mean I can fix it for you." Dani nuzzled against the side of Eli's face, one hand sliding down to cup her ass under her boxer-breifs.

"Stop talking, Dani," Eli murmured, closing her eyes as she put her fingers over the brunette's lips. A nap sounded perfect to her just then, and as far as she was concerned, the argument was over.

"Mmhm." Dani was closing her eyes too, but before she did, she grabbed a light blanket and pulled it over them. Then she relaxed, letting Eli hold her until they both feel asleep.

Chapter Text

Eli popped the shirt, which was still warm from the dryer, and quickly folded back the sleeves. She glanced up at Dani, realizing that she had started pacing as she talked to one of her parents. Shaking her head, Eli tried to think of the last time she talked to Patrice or Alex. It couldn't have been too long or Patrice would have called that Sunday. But Dani had been pretty excited when she took the call, and Eli could only see her back now. She couldn't hear her over her headphones.

"You're sure?" Dani sighed as she kept walking from one end of the room to the other. She sort of realized that Eli was there, but wasn't paying attention to her at all. "There isn't any way that you could just come up later?"

While she couldn't hear the other end of the conversation, Eli could count Dani's steps as she paced while she listened. Dani's parents were supposed to be coming for the weekend, and it didn't sound like it was going well. Eli hadn't met them; she wasn't much for meeting parents, but she hadn't really been dating anyone for more than a month or two until Dani.

Dani could feel her eyes tearing up and she tried to keep it out of her voice. "Yeah." She hadn't seen either of them since Christmas and just then April seemed very far away. "Sure." Her first semester had been so frantic that she hadn't had time to be homesick, but going back over Christmas reminded her of just how much she missed home and now she wasn't going to get to see either of them for over two months. She needed to get off of the phone before she actually started crying. "I'll talk to you later. Tell mother that I love her."

Eli glanced up just as she put another clean shirt on the pile, and at the look on Dani's face, she pulled one of her earbuds out. "Hey...you okay? I thought you were talking to your mom..."

Dani slumped down onto the bed and pulled her knees up against her chest. "Yeah." She just wanted to curl up in bed and cry. "They aren't going to be able to make it up this weekend."

"Oh." Eli pulled the other earbud out and looped them around her neck before she started pairing socks. She shrugged lightly. "That sucks. Sorry."

"Yeah," Dani sniffed, pulling the blankets up around herself even as she tried really carefully not to disturb the laundry Eli was folding. Tears were starting to slip from her eyes, but she didn't want Eli to worry. She just really, really wanted her mom there to give her a hug.

As a pile of pants toppled over, Eli frowned. "Christ, Dani, you..." She stopped, stunned to see tears on the brunette's face when she seemed just fine a second earlier. Or had she been just fine? "Hey...hey, what's going on?" she asked as she moved toward her.

Dani pulled the blankets closer. "I just really wanted to see them. I miss them. I miss home." With that admission, any attempt not to cry was pointless, and she started sobbing lightly, pressing her face into Eli's pillow.

"Hey...it's..." Eli licked her lips as she ran her fingers through her ponytail. "You'll see them at some point...it's really okay." She sat on the bed next to Dani and wrapped her arms around her.

Dani nodded, but she didn't stop crying. She knew that it was true, and that spring break wasn't really that far away, but that didn't make her feel better. She leaned into Eli's arms, clinging to her and trying to pull her down into the bed next to her. She just needed to be held.

"Dani..." Eli kissed her forehead and tried very hard not to sound frustrated. She just couldn't understand where the deluge was coming from. She couldn't count the times plans had fallen through with Alex and Patrice...on her end or on theirs. "It's no big deal, baby. We'll spend the weekend together."

"I just want to go home." She knew that it was pointless and she sounded like she was whining, but she didn't care.

"...okay?" Eli pulled her closer, but she had tensed. She had never really been homesick since coming to college, and she certainly didn't cry over...anything. "Why don't we just...go to Boston for the weekend?"

Dani didn't even bother responding to that suggestion. Boston wasn't home. It wasn't the same at all. She just clung tighter to Eli, wrapping her arms around her waist and burying her face in her shoulder. "Just... could you just hold me tighter?"

"Dani, I just don't get why you're so upset," she said even as she did as Dani asked and tightened her arms. She stroked Dani's hair and sighed softly as she recalled that all Dani had been talking about for a week was her mothers coming, going to dinner, having them meet her. It just hadn't seemed that important.

"I was just... I was looking forward to it. I really wanted to see them." The tears had slowed, but her chest still felt hollow. "It's hard to get the Senator on the phone for more than a couple minutes and mom can't hug me over the internet."

"What can I do?" she whispered, kissing the top of Dani's head as she started to stroke her arm. "How can I make it better for you, baby?"

Dani sniffed, snuggling into Eli's arm. "I don't know. I know I'm being ridiculous. I just really got my hopes up." She wrapped her fingers in Eli's shirt trying to calm down.

"I know...I...don't really get it, but I know," Eli whispered as she pulled Dani even tighter against her. The brunette was warm, soft, and she smelled like clean laundry and shampoo. Eli shifted underneath her and felt like a complete bitch for her mind being in a completely different place.

She nodded and sighed, pressing her lips to Eli's collarbone in thanks. "I'm sorry I fell apart on you." It wasn't something that she'd normally let other people see, and she and Eli hadn't really been together that long.

"Don't worry about it...I'm right here if you need to cry some more..." Eli smiled before tilting Dani's chin up and meeting her lips in a soft kiss. "But there are definitely other things we could do..."

"Eeeeellliiii," Dani couldn't help but smile though, "Is that all you ever think about?" She pushed at Eli's stomach, rolling her away even as she laughed a little.

"Jesus, Dani," Eli said, smirking as she caught her around the middle and pulled her back, "I was talking about finishing the laundry. Get your mind out of the gutter."

"I'm not the one who's mind lives in the gutter." Dani rolled her eyes, but her unhappiness had evaporated, so she guessed it had worked out. She snuggled close again, tangling her legs with Eli's and just resting her head on Eli's shoulder. "thank you."

"You're welcome." And Eli was definitely smug about it. She wasn't sure what she had done, but Dani was in her arms again, and she was starting to smile. She considered that a success. And as interesting as meeting Dani's parents might be, she was definitely getting a weekend alone with her girlfriend now.

Chapter Text

Dani flopped onto Eli's bed, her overnight case tossed beside the door. Eli's last class got out later than hers, but one of her housemates had let Dani in. There was a bag sitting out, but it was still empty. Dani guessed that Eli's plan to get up early that morning to pack hadn't worked out, not that she had really expected it to. She smiled as she heard the door open, knowing that Eli would be walking into the room any second.

"Hey, babe," Eli said as she rushed over to Dani and gave her a quick kiss. "I'm sorry. I got called into an emergency study group meeting this morning, and I didn't have time to both get dressed and packed." She laughed lightly as she pulled away. "But I'll be quick, I promise. How was your day?" she asked, grinning as she went to the closet.

"Pretty quiet." Dani pulled Eli's pillow to her chest and wrapped her arms around it as she watched Eli start moving around the room, pulling things from drawers and out of her closet. "There are emergency study group meetings?"

"Uh...do you really want to know?" Eli asked as she looked up from the drawer she was bending over. She winked as she chuckled and went back to digging through the contents. She found what she was looking for and straightened, unfolding a black teddy and refolding it.

"No. I don't." She could let those mysteries wait until her junior year, besides, the thing in Eli's hand was far more distracting. Dani sat up and peered into Eli's bag, grabbing at the lace and pulling it back out. "I didn't think that real people actually wore these things."

"Jesus, Dani," Eli said as she started to laugh. "Did you grow up in a convent or something. I'm sure your mothers war them." She laughed lightly as she unfolded it again and held it up to her chest.

"I really don't think they do." Dani smiled, still kind of amazed that Eli even owned something like that. "They're, like, completely impractical."

"You think this is practical, Dani?" Eli sauntered forward, charmed by Dani's expression. She seemed so taken, almost completely innocent.

"I, uh..." Dani licked her lips. It didn't matter what Eli was wearing, when her voice took on that tone...

"You, uh, what?" Eli asked as she dropped the teddy and crawled onto the bed, stopping just in front of Dani, close enough to feel her breath. "You think I really had an 'emergency study meeting' this morning?"

"You didn't?" Dani was already reaching for Eli, wanting to pull her down, to pull her closer. She felt a little foolish for believe what now seemed like an obvious lie.

"You've seriously never really seen anyone in a teddy, have you?" Eli said as she settled next to her. She laughed in disbelief, thinking back to the first time they had been together. It was intense, and passionate, but without that sort of impetus, Dani seemed almost clueless sometimes.

Dani could feel her cheeks getting hot, and knowing that she was blushing was only making it worse. "Uhm... not in person, no. Really, just, uh, mannequins..." She shrugged, hoping that Eli might let it drop but knowing that she wouldn't. There was something about that that excited her.

"You..." she said before kissing Dani's shoulder, kissing up to her ear, "seriously surprise me, you know... You'll talk dirtier most girls, but you blush like a virgin at a little piece of lingerie..."

"I, uhm...," Dani shrugged, shivering at the touch of Eli's lips. "I just get caught up?"

"Oh yeah?" Eli ran her tongue along Dani's earlobe and delighted in feeling her shiver. She moved closer, letting her breath dry the damp skin, making the shiver a shudder. "Caught up enough to want to see it on me?"

"Ungh," Dani whimpered, wrapping her legs around Eli and trying to get Eli to kiss her. "Can't I skip ahead to seeing you in nothing?" She didn't think there was any way she could wait for Eli to change before she touched her.

"Mm, no, I don't think so. You just don't get to skip steps, you know." Eli slid of of the bed, grinning as she picked up the teddy again. She took her time taking her shirt off. "You know you don't learn anything that way, Dani."

"I thought I had figured you out pretty well..." Dani smirked back, but didn't move to follow Eli. If Eli wanted to put on a show, there was no reason for Dani not to enjoy it.

"And a piece of lingerie has shattered your perfect image?" Eli smirked as she slid out of her jeans, leaving only her boxer-briefs. She waited for a moment, letting Dani take her in. She was vain enough to love the way Dani looked at her when she wore them, and she was just mean enough to tease her.

"Aw... Eli..." Dani sat up. "You can really just come back to bed now." She slid off of the bed and stepped toward Eli, reaching out for her, trying to grab her underwear.

"I don't think so, kid," Eli teased as she stepped back, hands on her hips as she smirked. The teddy dangled from her fingers, and at that point, she really didn't give a damn about it. But she hadn't really teased Dani much, and she was curious to see where it would go. "Can't let you be so bossy."

"Kid?" Dani raised her eyebrows and stepped back toward the bed. "If I'm a kid, maybe I should let you enjoy that teddy alone."

"I don't think that's really what you want." Eli licked her lips as she slipped her thumbs under the band of the underwear. "Close your eyes."

"What are you gonna do if I refuse?" Dani licked her lips, eyes sparkling as she kept them on Dani.

"If you refuse," Eli said, bouncing on her toes, her bright eyes trained sharply on Dani, "I'll have to blindfold you. And then," she continued as if it were the most logical thing int he world, "you won't get to see me in the teddy at all because I might just like that look on you so much."

Dani rolled her eyes at Eli, but obediently closed them. "Okay, you win." She shook her head, already finding it hard to keep her eyes closed, even though it had only been a second,

Quickly, Eli changed into the teddy and the matching panties, running her fingers along the soft fabric. It was getting late, but she dismissed that. The sight of Dani squirming was too tempting. In fact, everything about Dani was tempting; in the months they had been dating, she had had to be strict with herself to keep her priorities from being too taken by keeping the leggy brunette in bed. "Mm, are you ready?"

"Nah, I'm actually okay just sitting here with my eyes closed." Dani smirked as she opened her eyes, not waiting for Eli to give her permission. What she saw when she did made her breath catch in her throat. "Okay, maybe they aren't impractical."

"Somehow, i knew you were going to change your mind on that." Eli smirked as she sauntered over. She took her time about crawling up Dani's body, letting the fabric hang and fall until she finally pressed herself against her for a kiss.

"Mmmm..." Dani wrapped herself around Eli and kept her there, drawing out the kiss as long as she could. "So, is that the end of my lesson?"

"Well, i don't know..." Eli shifted, straddling Dani as she began to undo her jeans. "Do you have any...questions?"

"I don't even know what sort of questions would be appropriate...professor." Dani linked her fingers behind Eli's head, pulling her back down and squirming underneath her.

Slowly, Eli pulled away and looked down at Dani. She pushed a lock of her short hair behind her ears and half smiled. "I...yeah...if it's cool with you I'd rather not get that into the roleplay." There were definitely games Eli liked to play, but wasn't into that much pretending.

"You started it." Dani said and squirmed again, a bit more deliberately this time. She reached out for Eli, grabbing her arm and tugging at it lightly to get Eli to look at her. "But if you want me to drop it, it's cool." Her eyes were still bright with desire and she smiled reassuringly.

"Hey, I never made it definite." Eli laughed lightly. Playing with authority was interesting; pretending to be an authority figure and a student was too definite for her. But she shifted, putting herself back into the moment, pulling Dani's jeans off.

Dani wriggled under Eli, helping her get her jeans off, and then pulled off her own shirt. "Eli... stop talking and kiss me, or I'm going to get up, steal your car keys, and go to Boston by myself."

"Oh yeah...?" she said, hanging just above Dani's lips as she kicked the half full overnight bag off of the end of the bed. "Are you?"

"Yeah, I am." Dani pulled Eli down and flipped them over. As soon as she was on top of Eli, she started running her hands over the teddy, feeling Eli's skin through the lace.

"Then I guess you better get going." Eli shivered underneath the touch, but she tried to appear ever calm. "It's already dark."

"I'm getting there." Dani found Eli's nipple though the lace and started rubbing them, leaning down to take one into her mouth. The lace certainly made for an interesting texture.

"Mm...shit, Dani..." Eli laced her fingers through the brunette's thick hair, encouraging her to continue as she pressed her hips up. She was already wet, already past ready.

Dani pressed into Eli's hands as she kept sucking and licking at her nipples, switching between the two of them as her hands found their way down Eli's body. She pressed against Eli's center, pushing the lace between her lips as she rubbed it against Eli's clit.

"God..." Eli moaned, once against surprised by how Dani seemed to come alive in the heat of the moment. "You are...mmm...yeah...just like that," she whispered, pulling her closer.

Dani smiled brightly as she kept touching Eli. "What am I? I want to hear the rest of that thought." She started moving down Eli body, kissing her stomach and her hips before she settled between Eli's thighs and started licking her, still keeping the lace between them.

"Mmmm...if..." She took in a jagged breath and let her hands drop to the covers, twisting them between her fingers. "If you can make me come...god, quickly...maybe I'll tell you."

"Yeah," Eli moaned, arching into the touch. She let herself squirm, and she let herself let go, knowing that Dani would want it, that anything less might cast a shadow around the rest of the night. She wasn't going to hold it in and come silently like she did with other girls, always testing herself. And when she finally did let go, her eyes were wide as she shuddered.

Dani smiled as she climbed up Eli's body and wrapped herself around Eli, pressing her lips to Eli's neck. "Fast enough for you?" She kept nuzzling, almost desperate for Eli to finally touch her.

"You are..." Eli licked her lips as she pulled Dani up. She didn't finish before pulling her into a deep kiss, tasting herself on Dani's tongue. "Fucking amazing..."

"Mmmm." Dani wriggled against Eli, pushing close and nipping at her collar bones. "I'm really glad that you approve."

"I'm not going to make it that easy for you next time," she whispered, nipping at Dani's ear as she pressed her thigh between her legs.

Dani moaned and arched into Eli. "I'll try to remember that, but could we maybe finish with this time first?" She was desperate for Eli to touch her and she didn't keep the hint of whine from her voice.

Dani sounded absolutely sweet, but when Eli looked into her eyes, she caught a mischievous glint. She couldn't help but grin; there were so many layers to Dani, so many layers that she had yet to uncover. "Well..." she purred, pushing her thigh harder against Dani's center, "I'm willing to bet you could be shameless enough right now to finish..."

"Ohh...." Dani moaned and pushed against Eli's thigh almost unconsciously, but she buried her hot face in Eli's neck. "Is that what you want?"

"Mmhm, baby." Eli let Dani balance herself there as she met the thrusts. She pressed her hands down Dani's thin arms and stopped as cupped her breasts, moaning at how Dani's nipples were hard.

Dani dug her fingertips into Eli's arms, bucking against her leg. She could feel the muscle there, and that made her shudder even harder. "I've never..." She nipped at Eli's shoulder, getting closer and closer to her release. "Please..."

"Yes you will," Eli whispered, thumbnails scraping over Dani's nipples. "Yes, you will." She pulled her down and into a rough kiss.

Dani whimpered, sucking in a breath at the touch, and squirming closer. She was so close now, so very close. "God, Eli..." Dani started to shudder, gasping as her climax hit.

"That's it," Eli whispered, stroking Dani's hair, running her fingers down her back. "Mmm...Dani..." She drew in a deep breath, taking in the scent of Dani's hair, of her sweat. "I'm gonna order a pizza and we can watch Good Will Hunting or something else classic," she said finally, chuckling as she looked at the bag, toppled and spilling its contents onto the floor.

"Yeah..." Dani murmured as she pulled the blankets on Eli's bed up around herself, not really bothering to move otherwise. "Just, wake me up when it gets here." She pushed her face into a pillow and closed her eyes.

Chapter Text

Eli pulled on the boxer briefs, snapping the waistband as she swung around, leading with the hips, to look at herself in the mirror. She smirked before pulling on a tee and slipping into her jeans. Dani was heading over after her last class, and they were supposed to go out that night. But Eli doubted they would get that far. She zipped her jeans, smiling as she felt the dildo. It wouldn't be immediately noticeable, and she wasn't even sure Dani would remember that she had said something about wanting to see something different under that underwear the last weekend when she had one too many whiskey sours. But she was hoping that either way, it would be a good night.

Dani had stopped by her room long enough to drop off her stuff and change shirts. Her last class had been an unmitigated disaster, but it wasn't her disaster, so at least it had been an amusing one. She'd never actually seen a TV blow up before, and while she had felt bad for the professor, she hadn't felt bad enough to stop laughing. That good mood carried her all the way to Eli door, which she tapped on, then opened, bouncing in and wrapping her arms around Eli's neck for a kiss.

"Whoa...hey..." Eli smiled and kissed Dani again, slower this time. She pulled the brunette into her room and pushed her back against the door to close it, pressing her hips into Dani's. "You're in a good mood."

"Class was hilarious, and we got out early. And then I got to come here and see you. I think a good mood is definitely called for." It was only then that she realized just what was pressing against her pelvis, and her eyes went wide. "Oh, shit." Just the idea of it made her knees go weak.

"Yeah?" Eli smirked as she put her palm flat against the door and propped herself there, hips still pressing forward. That was definitely the sort of reaction she had been looking for.

Dani nodded absently as she let her knees buckle, her hands already on the waist of Eli's jeans. "Yeah." Her eyes were glued to the bulge in Eli's pants, even more so now that it was directly in front of her. She quickly unbuttoned Eli's fly and pulled the dildo out as she licked her lips in anticipation. "God you're hot." She was staring at the toy as she opened her mouth, tongue sneaking out to lick the tip before she wrapped her lips around it.

"Shit...yeah..." Eli was grinning as she pressed her hips forward, letting her other hand fall to Dani's head, encouraging her. "Surprise," she said as she looked down at the brunette, loving every second of the moment.

The brunette didn't bother to try to respond verbally, pushing her mouth forward instead. The dildo tasted of the cotton from Eli's underwear and she could smell Eli's wetness through her open fly. She moved her head back and forth, wrapping one hand around the base of the dildo, as she looked up at Eli, her eyes bright with excitement.

Any self consciousness Eli might have been tempted to feel at doing this with Dani for what seemed like it might be Dani's first time was quickly gone and she moaned loudly. "That's it," she whispered, bracing herself against the door as she thrust her hips forward slightly.

Dani grabbed Elli's thighs, squeezing them through her jeans and letting Eli push the dildo further into her mouth. She slid one hand around to press up under the dildo, vaguely where Eli's clit would be. She wasn't sure how she would react when Eli tried to fuck her with it, but for now she was content.

Eli shivered at the touch and curled her fingers into Dani's hair, holding it tightly, not realizing that she was pushing Dani's head to meet her thrusts. "Yeah," she moaned, body shaking as she started to come. "God...yeah..."

Again, she grabbed Eli's thighs, trying to help her stay on her feet as she finally pulled her mouth away. She tucked the dildo back inside Eli's pants and re-buttoned them, blushing at what she had just done completely without thought.

As she pulled Dani up into her arms, Eli stumbled back to the bed, tumbling onto it. She pulled the brunette on top of her and grinned lazily. "Hi to you too." she quipped as she rubbed her palms up Dani's thighs.

"Hi." Dani bit her lip and pressed her face into Eli's shoulder. "I, um, got a little carried away." And now she was nervous.

"I'm not complaining..." Eli smirked as she ran her fingers through Dani's hair. She kissed her lightly, letting her desire start to build again as she pressed her hips up. "You were...mmm...perfect."

"Okay." Dani smiled weakly and clutched at Eli's stomach for a second before she started to pull away. "I thought you wanted to go out tonight." She got out of bed and pulled her ponytail down, only to fix it and put it back up again.

"If you want," Eli said casually. She watched Dani carefully, now seeing that the brunette was unsure. "Or we could just stay in..."

Dani crossed her arms over her stomach, trying to will away the sudden churning it was doing. She leaned against Eli's desk and looked at the floor. "Yeah. I was, uh, looking forward to dancing with you."

Eli licked her lips and pushed out of bed, sauntering over to Dani. She wrapped her arms around her loosely and smiled before kissing the top of her head. "If you want to go out and dance, we'll go out and dance, babe."

Dani nodded, still looking down. Truthfully, she just wanted to go back to her room and go to bed, but she didn't want to disappoint Eli. "Yeah." She grabbed on to one of Eli's belt loops and didn't let go. Her mouth had finally taken her someplace that she wasn't entirely sure she wanted go, and now she didn't know how to pull back from it. Overall, she felt distinctly unsexy and much too much like a child.

"Hey..." Eli pulled away slightly and took Dani's slender shoulders as she looked the girl directly in the eyes. If Dani was trying to hide her expression, she was doing a terrifically bad job of it, and Eli was getting worried that her surprise had gone too far. "What's up...what's wrong?" She rubbed her thumbs over her shoulders. "We don't have to go out...we don't have to do anything."

"I'm sorry." Dani kept holding onto Eli's belt loop. "I know you're disappointed..." She knew Eli didn't respond well when she didn't get what she wanted. "I just... I'm scared." Dani's voice was as soft and as quiet as she could make it.

"It's ok..." Eli lifted Dani's chin and kissed her softly. "I'm not disappointed, Dani...if you don't want to do this, we won't..." She smiled softly and kissed Dani again. "And if you do...we'll take it slow..."

Dani nodded, still not entirely believing Eli. "Can we just stay here and watch a movie or something?" She just wanted to feel Eli's arms around her.

"Of course..." Eli smiled as she pulled away. For a moment she thought to take the strap on off, but she didn't want to make the moment awkward. Instead she picked a DVD at random and put it in the player before pulling pillows and a blanket onto the floor. She sat, leaning against the bed easily and patting the spot next to her. Dani joined her, still nervous as she curled up at Eli's side, trying to let the mindlessness of the movie relax her.

"Thank you." She whispered it into Eli's neck as she wrapped an arm around her.

Eli smiled and put her arm around Dani's shoulders. She'd told herself that she wasn't going to get into this with any baby dykes, especially any first-years. But Dani was intriguing enough, especially after their first time, that she had grown so complacent as to think something like this wouldn't come up. And now that it had... Even as they watched, her mind wandered to Dani hitting her knees so readily. She didn't want to push, but Eli knew that even though Dani freaked herself out, this was probably something she really wanted. She found herself rubbing slow circles on the brunette's upper arm, mindlessly replaying the moment in her head.

As the movie continued, Dani was slowly able to relax and Eli's touch was making it even easier. There was a reason that she trusted the other girl, and Dani just had to remind herself of that. She pulled the blanket up higher around their shoulders as the Ompaloompas started singing again and dropped her hand onto Eli's thigh. By the time the song was over, she was pressing her palm against the front of Eli's jeans, tracing the shape of the toy under her clothing.

Eli's breath caught as she could feel the subtle pressure of what Dani was doing. She tried to stay still, not wanting to upset Dani when she finally seemed comfortable again. But as the brunette continued, Eli began to squirm.

Dani pressed her lips against Eli's neck as she started to unbutton her jeans. Once they were open, she pulled the dildo back out and started touching it in earnest. "I want you to fuck me," she whispered, accent making her voice even thicker, "I just... need you to go slow." She slid her other hand behind Eli and started rubbing the small of her back under her shirt. "Can you do that?"

"Yeah..." Eli breathed, shuddering as she tried to stay still for a moment, to not simply pushing Dani down. "Yeah...anything you want," she said as she drew the girl up into a slow, long kiss.

While they were kissing, Dani pushed the blanket away. She was temporarily upset by the loss of heat, but easily replaced it by straddling Eli's lap and pressing close to her. She could feel the toy pressing into her jeans, and it made her moan. "Thank you."

Eli fumbled with Dani's jeans like it was her first time, and she shifted under her. "Just...let's get on the bed," she breathed between kisses, hoping that Dani would take care of the jeans herself as they moved.

Dani nodded and got up, pulling her pants off and turning off the overhead light. The moon was bright that night and they could see just fine. The slight darkness was enough to give Dani some comfort. She didn't know if she could do this is she tried to watch it all. She tugged off her shirt too, her bra quickly following, before she slid under the covers and waited for Eli.

She didn't question Dani turning the light off, though Eli would have preferred to keep it on, to see every moment. She slid out of her own jeans and underwear but kept her shirt on as she got in bed next to the brunette. Eli kissed her softly and began to touch her with little caresses until she began to touch her clit, rolling it between her fingers, pressing them between Dani's lips to make sure that she was wet.

Dani's breath caught as Eli pushed her fingers into her and she grabbed for Eli's shirt. Dani was whimpering and squirming enough to know that she was glad she had never asked Eli to go slowly before, because she certainly would have died from frustration before then. Little sounds kept escaping from her lips as she shifted under Eli's touch. She hooked a leg around Eli's waist and pulled her closer. "I trust you," she said quietly, wrapping a hand in Eli's hair and kissing her, but quickly letting Eli take control of the kiss.

That was enough to tell Eli that she could continue, and she carefully positioned herself on top of Dani, bearing most of her own weight as she guided the dildo between the brunette's legs, slowly pushing it into her as she kissed her neck. She wanted to whisper, to reassure Dani, but Eli found herself capable of murmuring only nothings against her skin as she took shuddering breaths.

"Oh, God..." Dani dug her fingers into Eli's back, trying to hold her closer, as she shifted her hips up. It was like nothing she had ever felt before, and she was immediately glad that she had let Eli do it. "You feel so good. God, sugar." She squeezed Eli's hips with her thighs, trying to pull her even closer.

"Shit...Dani..." Eli pulled her close as she pushed the toy in all the way and slowly pulled out. The slow thrusts were nearly painful in the restraint they took, and to make up for it Eli kissed the brunette with fierce abandon.

"God, just... make me come, please..." Dani couldn't get her fingers to stay closed long enough to hold onto Eli. She was desperate for some sort of release.

Eli moaned and began to thrust harder, propping herself on her elbow so that she could touch Dani's clit. It wasn't efficient; it wasn't precise. But Dani was so wet that her fingers slid just as easily as the dildo.

It took no time at all for Dani to reach her climax and she wrapped herself around Eli as tightly as she could. She stayed like that for what felt like forever before she slowly started to let her muscles relax.

"You okay?" Eli asked, still lying on top of Dani, stroking her hair.

"Yeah." Dani nodded and let Eli go, though she didn't let her go far, pushing her onto her side. "I'm good." She wrapped herself back around Eli, putting her head on her shoulder. "Thank you." She nuzzled at Eli's neck and started pushing her shirt up.

"Mmm...welcome," Eli said, sighing as she settled into the bed and kissed Dani softly. She didn't mind waiting a little while or until morning, if that was what Dani wanted. Right then, she was happy to lie there with the brunette in her arms.

Chapter Text

When she slid the key in the lock, Eli held her breath. Alex and Patrice weren't there when she slipped out, and even though they probably could guess at least one of the three places she might have gone, she just told Theo to tell them she was spending the night with Carrie because of a project. She hadn't been anticipating coming home so early, and if they thought she was out, Alex and Patrice wouldn't check her room before they went to work.

There wasn't really a set curfew, but she and Theo both knew that the default was usually midnight on a weeknight...and that was generous, she knew. It was nearly two, and Eli was so set on getting to her room that she didn't see the lamplight from the living room when she carefully closed the door behind her. She fingered the necklace—one of Patrice's pieces that she'd only seen her wear occasionally—she was wearing and slowly locked the door, careful not to make too much noise. She slipped out of her shoes—Alex's pumps—and picked them up before taking a step, and Eli just remembered not to leave her jacket out for them to see in the morning. Patrice probably wouldn't miss it until the weekend anyway. She bit her lip as she turned and adjusted her jeans. She still wasn't used to the feel of the toy, but it had made an awesome contrast with the girly shoes and tight jeans. She'd definitely made an impression at the party. But she caught her breath as she saw the light, and Eli hoped to God that it was just left on by accident.

Patrice raised an eyebrow and put down the magazine she was reading. She trusted Eli, but something had kept her up and she didn't want to wake Alex with her constant shifting. She caught up to Eli in the hall. "Late night?" Her voice wasn't angry, but she couldn't just let it go either.

"Shit," Eli muttered softly. She licked her lips and shuffled into the room, one hand on the necklace and the other holding Alex's shoes. While Eli tried to make her smile as sheepish as possible, she wasn't entirely sure she was successful. Her expressions very much mirrored her other mother's, and Alex didn't do sheepish. "Hi...I...yeah. I hope I didn't keep you up." There was absolutely no point in saying she'd decided not to stay at Carries because Eli knew Patrice wouldn't buy it. But at least it was Patrice who was up instead of Alex.

Patrice had to try very hard not to laugh at Eli's discomfort. She took in the girl, noting she definitely was overdressed for studying. "That necklace looks good on you, but I'd rather you ask to borrow it." The shoes and the coat didn't matter; Eli borrowed their things all the time, and she smiled at a memory, "Alex gave it to me on our ten year anniversary. It's from Paris."

"Oh..." Eli bit her lip before she smiled more genuinely. "I'm sorry; I'll ask next time I promise." She doubted she'd borrow the piece again. If she lost it, it wouldn't be good—and while Eli tried to be careful with her parents' things, the significance was enough to make her nervous. She shifted, bending to put the shoes down so she could take the necklace off. Eli remembered the toy again, and she could feel her cheeks flushing. Still, the room was dark enough that she thought Patrice might not notice. She quickly slipped off her jacket before taking the necklace off. And as she reached out, holding it to Patrice, she folded the jacket over her arm to try to cover her front.

It didn't seem likely that a reprimand was coming—Eli hoped, at least. But she stayed where she was out of deference to Patrice.

Patrice smiled and stepped over to take the necklace. She'd noticed what else Eli had borrowed earlier in the night in order to keep the toy in place, and she and Alex had already had a laugh about it. She pulled Eli in and kissed her hair quickly, remembering when she would have been able to kiss the top of her head when she was a child. But those days were over, and these ones weren't bad either. "You should get some sleep."

"You're not mad...?" Something about the look on Patrice's face, the calm that just covered slight amusement told Eli that Patrice might know about the other little treasure she'd borrowed. And Eli realized that's really what she was asking about. But she always asked that same question in situations like this. The answer varied, but she couldn't help it, even when it didn't really seem necessary anymore. She shifted and pulled Patrice back to the sofa, keeping the jacket over her lap as she sat down. It was nice in the room with the low light and just the two of them. And Eli coveted the little moments she got to spend alone with Patrice. It always seemed like some little surprise always came out of them...like Patrice always reserved choices pieces of information, like little private gifts for her.

"No, you know I'm not mad." Patrice sat back and shook her head slowly at her daughter, "but you also know you have a curfew, and I'd like to not have to make a big deal of it." She did laugh quietly then. "And I also couldn't help but notice you've been going through more than my jewelry." Patrice didn't want to embarrass Eli, but it was a start if the young woman wanted to talk about anything.

Eli knew her cheeks were bright red—just as bright as Alex's chest would get when she was pissed. But Eli was actually grinning sheepishly this time, and she looked down at her hands, at the jacket. She shifted without really thinking about it. "Yeah, I..." Eli licked her lips and laughed a little nervously. "Don't worry, I don't want to be a boy or anything. I just...thought I'd try the aesthetic...you know, see what kind of attention I got." She looked back up at Patrice. Even though she was a little embarrassed in being found out, she knew now was the time to jump when it came to her misgivings. And Eli had definitely had them, even though she walked into the party with a totally, she hoped, confident swagger. That's what she did. If she was worried, she just turned up her ego a notch, and it usually worked. "I...kinda found all of your stuff a while back..."

For some reason Patrice felt herself blush a little too, though she wasn't one to assume Eli didn't know far more than she or Alex had ever let on. She smiled. "Well, if you did want to be a boy, your mother and I would...adjust." That out of the way she moved on to the real conversation the young woman was starting, "And I suppose having your things gone through is the downfall of having a daughter who looks good in your clothes."

"Not my fault you guys have such great wardrobes," Eli retorted, smirking. "Seriously, though...I..." She didn't want to get into just every little thing she'd found. That would be too much for her and, she suspected, too much for Patrice. "I...wouldn't take anything...well, you know..." She squirmed a little uncomfortably and laughed to cover it. "I just..." Eli stopped and took a breath, closing her eyes for half a moment to force herself back to her center. When she opened them, she looked at Patrice dead on, staring at her seriously. "It's okay, right?" As her sure face began to crack, Eli bit her lip. She hoped Patrice understood what she meant.

A myriad of things had to be okay, had to be normal if Patrice and Alex were into them. Eli didn't think much beyond the surface of that. But she was starting to realize that she wanted more than what she'd experienced thus far.

Patrice looked thoughtfully at Eli. "Yes it's okay...as long as you're being careful." She could tell there was more Eli wanted to ask, and Patrice tried to think of how to put her at ease, "Are you worried about anything...curious?" She didn't exactly want to know everything about the details, but if she could help with a little advice here or there...

"I...don't want girls to think... I guess I don't want them to think I'm a freak if...I mean, if I'm wearing this." She laughed lightly as she shook her head. It was all so complicated, but she knew Patrice understood and would listen and let her work it out where Alex would totally clam up. "Okay...older girls...girls I probably shouldn't be flirting with or telling you about like it. I get that...more experience and everything. But the age appropriate ones," she grinned and tugged at her earlobe as her ears started turning red. "Anyway...if I want it to be a little more...heated, you know...? I'm just worried about knowing when that's okay, when it's right... And I guess I'm worried that it might not be okay to really want that at all..."

It was a long question, and Patrice brushed her hair over her shoulder, thinking it was a little late for a drink now. "Well, first off, it's not wrong. But choosing the when and where..." she took a breath, wondering if it was the lateness of the hour that was letting her defenses down, "...and the who is important."

"And..." Eli said, drawing out the word as she nodded, "that's something that I'm going to have to figure out on my own, isn't it?" She smiled and grabbed Patrice's hand, squeezing it. "I just...how do you know? How do you..." She shook her head and leaned back heavily. "I'm not a freak, am I? I'm just like every other seventeen year old..." Even though her seventeenth birthday was still a month away, "except that I'm totally unique in almost every way, right?" She grinned, but behind it, her uncertainty was showing.

Patrice chuckled quietly, "Yes Eli, exactly that." Then she looked more intently in her daughter's eyes, "And part of the fun in these things are figuring them out. God knows we've all had our share of uncertainties."

And Eli was completely content not knowing any of the details of Patrice's. "Thank you," she whispered as she leaned forward to hug her mother. Eli breathed in the smell of her shampoo just like she'd always done--even though she used the exact same kind now--and the remnants of her perfume because it was a comfort, almost a constant. "I'll uhm...get your stuff back to you..."

Patrice waived her off. "You're welcome anytime." Then she smirked. "And whenever you get the chance. Next time I'll just plan my night a little differently, I'm sure Alex won't notice." The last comment was a slight punishment for Eli's presumption, and Patrice couldn't help herself.

Eli blushed, and while she managed to hold back a groan, she couldn't stop herself from making a face as she stood. "Ew...Patrice!" She rolled her eyes as she leaned down and kissed her mother's cheek. "Yeah, I'm going to bed now...thanks." And when she pulled away Eli was grinning. She probably deserved that, and it was worth getting to have the conversation with Patrice. She was sure it'd all make sense one day.

Chapter Text

Eli pushed her hair behind her ear even though it slipped out two seconds later. She was smiling to herself as she made her way to Dani's house, tux pants and a backless top on. She had gotten ready quickly, but it was with a messy precision that she'd found produced a good effect when going out. It had been a long week, and this was the first time that she and Dani had really been able to plan to get off campus together, and Eli found herself a little more excited than usual. She made her way to Dani's room and rapped lightly on the door with her knuckles. "Guess who..."

"Oh," Dani turned, almost surprised that Eli was standing in her room. Her overnight bag was halfway packed on the bed in front of her. "Hey..." she smiled at Eli and leaned in for a quick kiss. "I, uh, can't go out tonight. I have to go to DC for the weekend..."

As she looked from Dani to the bag and back, Eli put her hands in her pockets. "Oh..." She pursed her lips thoughtfully. Dani hadn't called or texted to let her know; she wondered if she'd even thought about it. "So...were you going to just take off without telling me?"

Dani looked down. Things had just happened so fast... "I'm sorry. I mean, I just- I was going to come find you before I left, I just got distracted." Dani ran a hand through her hair, full of nervous energy.

"What's going on?" Eli took a step forward and pulled her hands out of her pockets to take Dani's shoulders. She wanted to be mad, but she couldn't, not with those big, dark eyes staring at her that way.

"I, uh, I don't really know. Mom just called and said that I needed to come home for the weekend." She shrugged and wrapped her arms around Eli. "I really would have told you..."

"Okay..." Eli said quietly. It was frustrating, even though she knew Dani was completely sincere. She knew she could still go out, that it wasn't the end of the word, but she didn't realize how set she'd been on going out with Dani.

"I'm sorry." Dani grabbed Eli's hip and pulled her close for a kiss. "I'll be back Sunday night. Promise."

"Yeah...sure." Eli forced a smile as she stepped away and ran her hand through her hair. "Well, have a good trip, and I hope whatever it is that's going on in DC works out..."

"Yeah." Dani turned back and quickly finished packing. "Walk to the car with me?"

"Of course..." Eli shouldered Dani's bag and offered her arm. She realized she could easily have let this go at one time, but it wasn't easy anymore. Mentally, she was planning the next week, when they could be alone when they could enjoy each other without stress. And she realized as she watched Dani pull away that she was already actively missing her.

Chapter Text

Dani curled herself into Eli's arms as the movie ended, trying to soak up her warmth. She was perfectly content on the couch, a blanket wrapped around them, but she had a feeling that Eli wouldn't be willing to just sit there for too long. She took advantage while she could. "Tomorrow can just...not happen, right?"

As she kissed the top of Dani's head and shifted, Eli laughed lightly. "Unless there's an apocalypse I'm not privy to..."

"Eli..." Dani whined, wishing that Eli would take her seriously. "I'm gonna miss you. And you're going to be off staring at hot Italians all summer..."

"Yes...yes, I am..." Eli grinned at the thought. She had been looking forward to the trip for months, but she hadn't let herself focus to much on it in favor of keeping up with her priorities for the semester. And then Dani had come along... "I'll miss you too, but it'll be okay," she said finally, as an afterthought.

"Yeah, right." Dani shook her head and got up. Suddenly, she didn't feel like being so close to Eli. She started grabbing her things, getting ready to leave.

"Hey..." The abrupt change wasn't lost on Eli, and neither was the fact that Dani had been both a little clingy and a little lost in thought for the past week or so. She hadn't asked, and she knew she should have. But there were so many things going on. "What is it, baby?" she asked as she reached for the brunette.

Dani pulled her hand out of Eli's grip. "Do you wanna break up with me? Because if so, I'd rather you do it now, in person, rather than over the phone a week from now."

"Who said I wanted to break up with you?" She frowned, her brow creasing in a mirror of her mother's. "Is that what this is about?"

"I don't know." Dani crossed her arms over her stomach. "You just... act like it isn't a big deal, and I'm not going to get to see you at all this summer and you don't exactly do relationships..."

"That's bullshit," Eli snapped, crossing her arms. She pursed her lips as she stepped closer to Dani. "Just because I've enjoyed a variety of encounters while in college does not mean I 'don't do' relationships, Dani. I'm here, aren't I? And it's a summer...it's no big deal."

"It's a big deal to me, and all you do is blow it off." She pulled her jacket on, even though she probably wouldn't need it. "I don't even know what we're doing. Are you just fucking me because it's convenient? Because sometimes it feels like that's about how invested you are."

"Believe me, Dani, there are a lot more convenient lays than you," Eli snapped after scoffing incredulously. It was definitely not the thing to say, and she very well knew it. But she didn't try to backpedal.

"Oh fuck you." Dani wasn't even going to bother trying anymore and she slammed the door behind her on her way out.

"Shit," Eli muttered, rolling her eyes as an excuse to wait half a beat before she followed. With quick, long strides, she caught up to Dani and grabbed her elbow. "Would you just calm the fuck down, please, and come back so we can talk about this?" It was absurd; Eli knew she should have just let her go and freed herself up for the summer. But she couldn't resist Dani when she was angry.

Dani pulled her elbow away. "Why should I? What are you going to say that I don't already know?" But she didn't keep walking. She couldn't stop herself from hoping.

"Obviously you don't already know that I care enough about you to be dating you. Christ, Dani, what did you think we were doing all this time?" Eli sighed softly and lowered her voice. "If this was just about sex, you'd know it."

"Would I?" Dani wanted to believe that they had been dating, that Eli cared about her, but maybe she just thought that because she wanted to. "You've never said anything about it."

"I didn't really think it was necessary," Eli said, shrugging. "It seemed like we understood each other perfectly fine."

"I thought so too, but you don't really seem to care that we're not going to see each other for three months, so what am I supposed to think?" Dani took a step back, retreating further into herself, trying to get away before she got even more hurt.

"It's not that I don't care, Dani..." Eli sighed, licking her lips lightly before she stepped forward and just pulled Dani into her arms. "It's just that there's nothing I can do about it."

Dani sighed and leaned into Eli, letting her hold her. "i just don't want you to go off and forget about me." She pressed her face into Eli's neck and tried not to cry.

"I can assure you that you..." Eli pulled back and lifted Dani's chin, melting at the sight of her watery eyes. "You are absolutely unforgettable, Dani," she whispered as she leaned in for a soft kiss.

Dani returned the kiss and wrapped her arms around Eli, settling into her again, even though they were still in the middle of the hallway. "Okay."

"Are you sure?" Eli asked quietly, rocking Dani slightly back and forth. She bent down for a quick kiss before looking the brunette in the eyes.

"Yeah." She felt foolish now, having been worried about nothing. "Can we just... go get in bed?" Her anger was gone, and now she just felt tired, though she was sure that Eli would end up keeping her awake for most of the night anyway.

"Anything you want, baby," Eli said, smiling as she pulled away and offered Dani her hand. She twined their fingers together, bringing Dani's to her lips for a quick kiss. And she realized that she should have known getting involved with Dani was going to be trouble. But she wasn't sure she wanted to even worry about what that meant for her now.

Chapter Text

The girl sitting on the lounge chair was, by far, the most interesting person at the pool, even if she was an American. Helena lowered her sunglasses to get a better look, and smiled as their eyes met. That was more than enough of an invitation for her and she slid off of her barstool and ambled over. "You're very pale to be sitting in the sun all day." She took her sunglasses off as she dropped, uninvited, on the lower half of the chaise.

As she looked over her sunglasses, gaze trailing up the girl's legs to her face, Eli chuckled. "Do you always start your conversations with an insult?" She pursed her lips to keep herself from sitting up, from appearing too interested in the gorgeous Italian.

"I didn't mean to be insulting, merely... concerned." A smirk teased her lips. "It would be much harder for you to get burned if we were in my apartment, no?" She trailed a finger down Eli's calf. She saw no need for subtlety. She wasn't after a relationship, after all. Just a fun afternoon.

Eli drew in a slow breath. She knew it wasn't going to be every day that she got an offer like that from someone so stunning, but something held her back from accepting immediately. She told herself it was that she didn't want to seem too eager. "What makes you think I haven't been diligent in applying my sunscreen, hmm?"

"I don't." Helena kept moving her fingers over Eli's leg, daring to go higher, up the outside of her thigh. "But isn't it better to be safe?"

"That doesn't sound," Eli said as she leaned forward and caught the woman's fingers, twining them in her own, "very typically Italian to me, you know..."

"Well, we can't all be stereotypes." She brought Eli's fingers up to her mouth, placing little kisses across their backs. "Come home with me, and we can discuss it more."

"I..." Eli sighed softly, thinking of Dani as she gently pulled her fingers away, "I have a girlfriend." She smiled apologetically, but she knew that part of her was not as reluctant to decline as she was making it seem.

"Oh," Helena shrugged, "too bad then." She ran her fingers over Eli's leg one more time as she stood. There was no point in wasting her time over someone who wasn't really interested. "We could have had fun." She smiled over her shoulder as she turned away, headed back to the bar.

"Yeah..." Eli said, more to herself. She sighed as she got up quickly, determine to get in the pool to shake herself out of what seemed like a fog. Normally, she wouldn't have thought twice about it. Dani wasn't there; they had never really said they were going to be exclusive, even though they definitely were. But where she might have with anyone else...she just couldn't think of how heartbroken Dani would be if she told her. And to her dismay, Eli realized that she hadn't even considered not telling Dani an option.

*****

When she got out of the pool, Eli wrapped herself in an oversized towel and retreated to a covered table where she pulled out her phone. It took a long moment before it began to ring, and when it did, she sat back.

"H'lo?" Dani rubbed her eyes as she pulled the phone away from her ear to check the caller id, but it was coming up as blank. Then she checked the time. 9:48. Well, it was probably time to wake up anyway.

"Oh, I woke you up...I'm sorry," Eli said, smile coming to her face to hear Dani's voice, sleepy though it was.

"Eli... hey." Dani pushed her thoroughly tangled hair out of her eyes and wrapped an arm around a pillow. "Is fine. Mom'll probably be banging on the door soon anyway, if she doesn't think I'm up." She snuggled further into the warm blankets and fancifully imagined that they were Eli. "How's Italy?"

"It's nice...really nice..." She looked around at the perfect sky, the perfect scenery, and then she sighed. "I miss you..."

"Mmm, miss you too." She was counting down the days until school started again, and Dani was a big part of the reason why. "Wish I could be there."

"Believe me, so do I...but...yeah I really can't talk...roaming rates and all." She smiled again, thinking of Dani curled in bed. "Love you."

"Love you too." Dani took a deep breath, getting ready to let Eli go. "I'll talk to you when you get back, and maybe we can go somewhere for fall break or something." It was a little early to be planning that, but the idea of laying in bed with Eli someplace that wasn't on campus sounded really, really nice.

"That sounds good, baby. Have a good day." She could hear the rustle of sheets as Dani said her goodbyes, and Eli sighed softly as she hung up. The gorgeous Italian was already pretty far from her mind.

Chapter Text

The music wasn't too loud, and Eli was enjoying the beat. She kept her hand on the small of Dani's back, feeling her warm skin underneath her fingertips as they sauntered toward the bar. "You okay?" she whispered, lips brushing against Dani's ear. It was a birthday party for an acquaintance that Dani didn't know, and while Eli barely did, it was a place to be seen. Still, after the summer apart and a few awkward moments in the first days back to school, she wanted to make sure Dani was having a good time.

"Yeah, totally." Dani's smile was convincing, even if her answer wasn't entirely genuine. She didn't know anyone at the party, and she knew that Eli really didn't either, be she also knew that appearances were important to Eli. That was something she understood. She had sat in the middle of her parent's bed as her mother had gotten dressed for some party or another, complaining about having to go and hoping that the champagne was good so many times that she couldn't count them. She guessed hoping the beer was good was pretty close to a college equivalent.

"Let me get you a drink, okay?" Eli grinned as she kissed Dani's cheek, flicking her tongue over it playfully. She pulled away to side up to the bar, pressing her elbows down against it as she cocked her head and smirked at the bartender.

Dani found a wall to lean against while Eli waited at the bar. Sometimes it was nice just to watch Eli do things. She seemed more at ease with people that Dani could even imagine being.

"You know," Eli was saying as she looked down at the scrap of paper with the bartender's phone number on it, "I'd love to, but..." She glanced back to Dani and winked, "I'm not sure my girlfriend would approve." He just laughed, and she was glad of it because he still didn't charge for their drinks. Patrice would probably be proud. She smirked as she grabbed both the beer bottles in one hand and made her way back to Dani. "Do I look like a straight girl tonight, or am I just that hot?"

Dani took the beer and rolled her eyes. "I'm not answering that." She reached out and rested a hand on Eli's hip, drawing her closer. "You're ego's big enough already."

"Mm," Eli purred as she wrapped an arm around Dani's slender shoulder and pulled her close. "I think you already answered it, thanks... But you look pretty good tonight too, you know..."

"Eli? I thought that was you." Michelle smiled warmly, laughter behind her eyes. "It's been awhile." She glanced over Eli's form, letting her gaze run quickly to the brunette with her as well, "Since...last summer? At Jesse's place upstate?" She would hardly be able to forget.

As she regarded the newcomer, Eli couldn't help but lick her lips. It took a moment, but the second she saw those bright green eyes, that particular summer night came back quite vividly. A smirk spread across her face. "Hey, Michelle, right? God that was a crazy weekend, yeah?" She pulled away from Dani and gave Michelle a hug that probably could have been briefer. "Hey, this is Dani... Dani, this is Michelle...she's one of Carrie's girlfriend's friends."

"It's, uh, nice to meet you." Dani smiled and offered Michelle her hand. Clearly something had happened between the two of them, but Dani was really trying not to think about it.

Michelle shook it warmly. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see that Eli had a date for the night, but that didn't stop her from reminiscing for a moment, "It was quite the weekend, but I blame it on the lack of air conditioning and the cheap vodka." She gave a knowing smile,."But I don't need to make up too many excuses."

"You know what..." Eli's eyes were bright as she took Dani's beer out of her hand and kissed her lips quickly. "Why don't I go and get us all something stronger than this...and not cheap?"

"Uh... okay." Dani didn't really have the chance to object. Eli was already headed back to the bar.

"So.." Michelle smiled at Dani, filling the silence, though the room was already loud. "How long have you two...or are you just out for the night?"

"Uhm... It's been about 8 months." Dani had to think about it for a minute, adding them up in her head. She ran a hand through her hair, not really sure just what she should be talking about with someone who was apparently one of Eli's one night stands.

"Wow, I didn't think she did long-term." Michelle shrugged, she really didn't care one way or the other, but Dani was cute and she didn't know Eli that well.

From the bar, Eli glanced back and them and half smiled. Dani was shifting, but Eli knew that given half a chance she could get comfortable. She'd learned that Dani could get along with just about anyone, that she was incredibly charming when she wanted to be. As she got the drinks, Eli took a moment to balance them, giving Dani and Michelle another half moment to get to know each other.

"Well, we're taking it one day at time, and I try not to remind her of just how many of those days have passed." Most people were polite enough not to bring up Eli's reputation, but it had never really bothered Dani.

Michelle cocked her head, regarding Dani with new interest, then laughed quietly, "That sounds like as good a plan as any." Someone pushed through the crowd behind her, shoving her nearly against Dani, but she didn't move back, she enjoyed the closeness.

Dani reached for Michelle's arm to steady her, but somehow ended up with her hand on Michelle's waist instead, and when Michelle didn't step back, it just kinda ended up staying there. "Yeah, it's working out okay, so far." She smiled, looking toward the bar and hoping to catch sight of Eli again.

As Eli was returning, she had to pause once more when she saw the sudden movements. She licked her lips again, chewing on the bottom one slightly. It definitely wasn't the worst thing she had ever seen, and it clearly had been an accident. "Vodka tonics all around," she said when she returned. "I'm glad to see that you two are getting to know each other."

Michelle laughed lightly as she took the drink, handing one to Dani. She didn't step back either, and the crowd was pressing in. "Well we were just talking about you," She winked at Dani, "Way to come back and spoil the fun Eli.."

Dani smiled slightly, wrapping an arm around Eli's waist and sliding closer to her. "Yeah..."

"Oh, then by all means," Eli said, smirking as she chewed the straw of her drink. "Don't mind me." She took a long sip, letting her ego get the better of her but not quite to the point where she was preening, yet.

"I was just telling Michelle how long we've been together." Dani kissed Eli's jaw lightly. She wasn't exactly sure what to make of Michelle, though Eli's reaction was pretty obvious.

Michelle didn't look away, or sip her drink. Eli and Dani were beautiful together, and the vodka wasn't her first of the night.

"Crazy, isn't it?" Eli said, smiling as she pulled Dani closer. "And also crazy is the fact that Erin Meadows is heading this way, and if I don't cut her off now, she's going to keep us here about budgeting all night... so if you two could go... I don't know... get comfortable on the dance floor I might have an excuse to rush away when she corners me." She cringed visibly at the sight of the girl, but her plan was pretty good. Besides, it seemed like Michelle and Dani were enjoying themselves.

Michelle grinned and nodded, not giving Dani the chance to protest. A second later, and she was tugging her away through the crowd. She found an open spot, and pulled Dani in, smiling and edging closer. "Just being helpful," She laughed as she felt the brunette start to move with her.

"Yeah, right." Dani put her hand back on Michelle's hip, trying to focus dancing and not glancing over at Eli every two seconds. It wasn't quite working, but that was okay. She refocused on Michelle. "Hopefully Erin won't keep Eli for too long." Eli, at least, would find a reason to walk away. If Dani had stayed, she would have been stuck there for the rest of the party and ended up running through the budget math all night.

Michelle smiled at how obviously attached Dani was, but couldn't help dropping her fingers to lightly graze up the brunette's legs. "I'm sure she can tear herself away." And that would be fine with her.

Dani shivered slightly at the touch, though she wasn't entirely sure that she wanted it. "Yeah. She's better at that sort of thing that I am." She smiled as she let her hands rest more fully on Michelle's back.

Michelle smirked, the vodka making the room soften pleasantly, "Mmmhmm... she's good at lots of things." She pressed forward, making any lingering distance between them vanish.

Dani sucked in a breath at the sudden contact, holding Michelle tighter at the surprise. "Uh, yeah. She is." There was really only one way that Michelle could mean that comment and it made Dani blush just to think about it, or to think about Eli and Michelle together.

Eli turned back to the dance floor, exasperated from the useless conversation. She scanned it for Dani and Michelle, fully intent on finding them and getting another drink. But when she found them, the sight took her breath away from a moment. It looked almost as if they were about to kiss, and she moved forward immediately, desire replacing any annoyance. "You two look comfortable," she said, coming up behind Dani, settling her hands on Michelle's sides as she wrapped her arms around her.

Dani immediately pressed back into Eli, cheeks still flushed from the moment before. "Well, you did tell us to get comfortable." She twisted her head to kiss Eli lightly.

In response, Michelle flashed Eli a smile, letting that speak for itself. She moved back just enough to disentangle Dani's arms from around her waist, and turned her to face Eli, settling in against her back. Dani was taller, but slender, and Michelle couldn't resist letting her lips get close to the girl's neck.

"Yeah, I guess I did..." With Dani warm against her, Eli flushed and pressed forward, curling her fingers into Michelle's hips. "I was gonna get another drink...but...mmm..." She knew her voice was probably getting lost, but her lips found Dani's and that said enough. And when the kiss broke, she found herself just as close to Michelle.

Michelle held Eli's eyes for a moment as she pressed her lips to Dani's neck. She was fairly sure she was reading the moment right- and she had little to risk if not. This was by far the most intriguing encounter she'd made that night.

Dani shuddered as she felt Michelle's lips on her skin, her breath against her hair. And Eli was in front of her, too close for her to maintain any sort of rationality. She held Eli tighter, needing something solid to keep her grounded as her head spun. "Is this what you want?" she whispered into Eli's ear, voice uncertain. They had only been back at school for a couple of weeks and she really didn't want Eli to get distracted by all of the new people.

"Could be fun," Eli whispered, head spinning with the moment. She wasn't really thinking about what she was saying. Dani felt perfect in her arms, and she was getting lost in the music, in the way everything seemed to be closing in around them.

Michelle could see the other two whispering, but didn't pay much attention. Whatever was being said, she was more distracted by the feel of Dani against her, and Eli's fingers brushing her sides.

"Yeah. Right." Dani pressed a kiss to Eli's jaw, trying to muster up the courage to actually go through with what she was suggesting. Rather than over thinking it, she abruptly turned in Eli's arms and kissed Michelle, brushing her tongue over Michelle's lower lip as she put her arms around her.

If she was surprised, Michelle's delight at the shift covered for her, and she moaned quietly into the kiss. Dani was beautiful and new, but having Eli watching them made it even better.

Eli drew in a shuddering breath as she watched. She told herself that this was normal, that lots of people did it, and she tried to keep her mind from going to the almost certain knowledge that her mothers did. She put her hands on Dani's hip and leaned forward, but it was Dani she had been focused on the whole time. It was Dani that was making her heart race. "You know...I...no offense, Michelle but...I think I'm more interested in just taking Dani home."

Michelle's eyes were still half closed, mind still lingering. "What, oh.." She tried to sort through Eli's words a few times, but came up with the same answer over again. "Uh...yeah...okay..." She was disappointed to say the least, but it wasn't something that could be pressured.

Eli smiled apologetically as she leaned forward to kiss Michelle's cheek. She was gorgeous, and from what Eli remembered, she was incredibly fun in bed. It surprised her that this wasn't something she really wanted, but it didn't bother her as much as it might have a year before. "Bethany Clarke is over there with April Edwards...I think I remember April saying something about being incredibly mad at me for stealing you away from her at that party..." She pulled away and wrapped her arm around Dani, happy with the thought of taking her to bed but still wanting to make sure Michelle's night wasn't ruined.

Dani tried not to let her relief show as she pressed into Eli's side, glad that they would be going back to Eli's room without any added company. "Yeah, you should go have fun..." she trailed off, blushing at just how lame she sounded.

Michelle glanced over her shoulder, raising an eyebrow. April was no Dani or Eli, but she was fun, and Michelle had no intention of causing a scene. She smiled at Eli, "Did she? Well, I suppose I could leave you two to your night then." She flicked her eyes over them both, "But you know....you still have my number Eli..."

"Yeah..." In truth, Eli had quite a few old numbers that she had forgotten about. But she didn't think she'd be using Michelle's or any one else's any time soon. She tightened her arm around Dani, not wanting to make her jealous. "We'll see." She offered a half smile and a wave. "Night..."

Dani wrapped her fingers around Eli's and nuzzled against her temple. "Can we go back to school now?" She tried to sound playful, but really, she just wanted to curl up with Eli, to reassure herself that she was really the one Eli wanted.

"What do you think?" Eli said grinning as she stole a quick kiss. She could sense Dani's mood and as they got outside, stopped, pulling the brunette into a hug. "I don't know what got into me...but...I just wanted you. The idea was definitely enticing...but I don't know, Dani, I just...want you."

"Yeah?" Dani rested her forehead against Eli's, snuggling close to her. "Is that the Eli Cabot way of saying that you love me? Huh?" she teased.

"Why don't we head back, and I'll show you the Eli Cabot way of saying 'I love you'..." she said, smirking as she pulled away and began to tug Dani forward. It didn't bother her, Eli realized, to say it. She didn't know if it would last forever, and she didn't worry about that. But for now, it was true, and she was settling into being content with that.

Chapter Text

"It says exit 5...why do I think we took exit 7 last time?" Alex put down the directions, and took off her glasses out of habit. She pursed her lips, glancing out of the window and reminding herself that Patrice had offered to drive because her week had been particularly stressful.

"Does it really matter yet?" Patrice said, smiling. "We're in the middle of Connecticut still." She sped up to pass a truck, making Alex glance at her predictably. She enjoyed this though, the quiet drive, the time alone together.

"You don't have to do that, you know," Alex said matter of factly. "I called and said we'd just be making it for dinner. Eli won't be upset about that, I don't think."

Patrice chuckled. "Probably not. Think she'll take us up on the offer to bring her date tonight?"

Alex sat back and folded the paper in her hands before she reached over to clasp the other blonde's fingers in hers, smiling knowingly. "Probably not."

Chapter Text

Taylor walked across the campus, enjoying the slightly cooler weather. There had been a heat wave in DC the past few days and she was relieved to know that it hadn't moved further north yet. Abbie was driving in later from New York, as Taylor had had to stay in DC an extra day for a last minute committee vote and had missed her flight back to Manhattan. She hadn't bothered to tell Dani about the change in plans though, hoping to surprise her. But as she walked toward her daughter's house, she came up short. That was definitely her daughter curled up under the tree just ahead and she definitely wasn't alone. Taylor cleared her throat as she got closer. "Dani..."

Eli's eyes went wide as soon as she saw the face to go with the voice, and she quickly pulled her hand out from under Dani's shirt. She hadn't been touching anything but ribs, but there was a United States senator, who happened to be Dani's mother, staring down at them. Eli had seen pretty frightening angry faces on her parents, but she couldn't tell what Senator Hamilton was feeling...and that worried her. "I thought your parents were coming later," she hissed before smiling up at the Senator, trying to be endearing.

Dani pulled out of Eli's arms and stood up as quickly as she could. "Mother, I, uh, thought you weren't getting here until later..." She shifted uncomfortably for a minute before she threw herself at Taylor. She didn't have any idea how the Senator would feel about catching her making out with her girlfriend, but she had still missed her a lot and not hugging her was just too hard.

Eli slowly got to her feet and shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans. She was blushing. Alex or Patrice walking in on her was one thing. This was someone else's parent...someone else's probably really normal parent.

Taylor smiled as she hugged Dani back, rubbing her back slightly, just like she had when Dani was small. "I got stuck in DC and had to fly up. Abbie should be here in a couple of hours." She let Dani go and smiled at her companion. "So, are you going to introduce me?" Normally she would just introduce herself, but she didn't want to upset Dani with the presumption.

"Um, yeah. Sorry." Dani tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Mother, this is Eli." She looked at Eli awkwardly. "Eli, this is my mom. um, Taylor Hamilton." Even though Eli already knew that.

"Senator..." Eli stepped forward and extended her hand, smiling warmly and with more confidence than she was feeling right at that moment. "It's really a pleasure to meet you. I'm...well, I'm sorry that..." She blushed slightly. "Welcome to campus."

Taylor shook her hand. "It's just Taylor, really." The number of people that she could actually get to use her first name seemed to diminish with every election that she won, and she wondered if Eli would be one of them. Still, she had to give her daughter credit, her girlfriend was both attractive and assertive. "And there's no need to apologize. Clearly," she shot Dani a look, "I should have called when I got here."

Eli licked her lips and debated her next move. She knew Alex and Patrice wanted to meet Dani, even though she'd been pretty coy about her. And she knew they would probably be even more impressed if they met the Senator. Impressing them was a game that she played with herself, but she didn't want to say what she was about to say and have Dani think she was using her for some purpose. But she only hesitated for a moment, thinking she could make it up to the brunette later if that was the case. "My parents will be here in a few hours, and we were going to dinner. I'm sure that they'd love to have you and Dani join us...and your partner, of course."

"Then you'll have to let me take the two of you to lunch now." Taylor smiled at the audacity and looked to Dani, hoping that her daughter was okay with it. Dani was blushing and she looked like she might want to disappear into the ground, but she didn't seem like she was objecting either.

*****

Eli was tapping her foot, arms crossed as she waited for Alex and Patrice to pull into the parking lot. This would be the first time that Theo couldn't come with them, and she found herself already missing him. Between lunch and then, Eli had taken some time, gotten some things done in preparation for her parents getting there. And she had changed from jeans to slacks and a pair of low heels. She didn't know where Alex and Patrice wanted to go, but she figured that her outfit would probably do. And when she saw the car pull in, she smiled. She was nervous, though, and it was her own fault. It was her bright idea to invite everyone to dinner, as if she and Dani were planning a wedding or something rather than fucking every chance they got. But as soon as they pulled into a spot, she hurried over, already opening the driver's side door.

Before Patrice could barely get the car into park, it seemed like Eli was dragging her into an almost too excited hug. She returned it anyway, kissing her daughter 's cheek before leaning back to take in her demeanor. Patrice gave her a knowing look, "What's up Eli?" She laughed a little, "And what's it going to cost us? Because if it's got more than two zeros, ask me after my first drink at dinner."

"I have no idea what you're talking about, Patrice," Eli said, smirking and turning to Alex as she rounded the car. She gave her other mother a much more reserved hug, but a tight and long one nonetheless. Eli knew their preferences and had grown up having no issues going back and forth between Alex's reserve and Patrice's energy. She watched Alex cock her head, knowing the gesture well. "I think Patrice is right...something's up, and I'm guessing it's more than where you want to go to dinner."

"Well...I know that you know I have a girlfriend." She looked from one of them to the other, and she decided to take Patrice's hands as she bit her lip. "And rather than listen to twenty questions or either of you lobbying to meet her, I just...invited her and her parents to dinner with us."

Patrice really tried not to laugh at Eli's speech. It wasn't exactly the evening she'd been expecting, but they'd definitely never met any of their daughter's girlfriend's parents before. She looked over at Alex, whose eyebrows were raised even as she was shrugging in bemusement, "Okay, sure Eli, I don't think we'd say no to that." She shook her head at the young woman, recovering from the surprise, "We'd be excited to meet them. Is Viva still good? I'll call and change the reservation, 7:30?" They still had to go check in to their hotel, and now that plans had changed, Patrice wanted to re-think what she was wearing.

"Yes, awesome..." Eli was grinning. This was either a great plan or a really stupid one, but she was excited that her parents had reacted well. And she was excited to be able to spend more time with Dani that weekend than they'd actually planned. "You. Are awesome." She kissed Patrice's cheek, then Alex's. "Why don't I just come with you guys to the hotel—you haven't checked in yet, right?—and I'll have Dani and her moms meet us there..." And as if anticipating that, Eli watched Alex round the car, already getting back in.

*****

Abbie glanced at herself in the lobby mirror on her way out. She hadn't had too much time to change, and she smoothed her dress before moving to the door. Taylor had said something about meeting Dani's girlfriend at dinner, but had gotten cut off before she got the rest of the details. Apparently the middle of Western Massachusetts wasn't the greatest place for cell reception. But Taylor's voice had been amused sounding, and Abbie headed up the street to meet them on campus before heading to dinner.
The few times she'd been there before, she'd liked the quaint little town, though it was nothing like what she was used to. The brunette glanced at the storefronts, and pulled her light coat around her as a pleasant chill started to tinge the early fall air. A few moments later and she was ringing the bell to Dani's house, and smiling as the girl came to open the door for her. Abbie caught the girl in her arms, hugging her before holding her at arm's length to look her over, "Have you been eating enough?" It was always her first comment when she hadn't seen her daughter in more than a week, though the girl's appetite was even better than her own.

Dani grinned at the usual question, happy that the routine had returned, even if was only temporary. "Three meals a day plus snacks." That was basically true. If she was thin, it wasn't from lack of eating. "Mother's waiting inside, but we should probably get going." She looked over her shoulder to see Taylor coming up behind her.

Abbie glanced up from one last skeptical look at her daughter's slender frame, and smiled at Taylor, "Yes, in one minute. I haven't seen your mother in a week." The brunette could almost sense her daughter's eyes rolling as she stepped over and kissed Taylor, "Hey...glad to see you too."

"Mmm." Taylor wrapped her arms around Abbie, returning the light kiss. "Sorry I missed my flight and couldn't drive up with you." She lightly brushed her nose against Abbie's, something she would only do when she was certain there wasn't anyone around to witness it. "But," she said as she stepped back, "it did give me the opportunity to catch our daughter and her girlfriend making out on the front lawn." She couldn't resist teasing Dani. It was part of her duty as a parent, really.

"Is that so?" Abbie raised her eyebrow at Dani. "And we're going to meet this girl?" She was already starting for the door, "You're full of surprises this visit aren't you?" They headed toward the edge of campus, and Abbie couldn't help picking up her best Texas accent, the one she used to tease Dani, "So, Danielle, do tell me about her, what does her father do?"

Dani blushed and glared at Abbie as they walked toward the restaurant. "She doesn't have a father. Her mothers are both lawyers," she said, her tone taking on a defiant edge. There wasn't anything that either of her parents could say about lawyers without being hypocrites.

Abbie almost laughed, almost wanted to make a 'dating yourself' joke, but she wouldn't do that to her daughter, who she was sure was already nervous. They crossed the street, and Dani led them into a small restaurant. The hostess smiled, "Three?"

"Six, actually." Taylor corrected the hostess. "Though I think there's a reservation." It only occurred to her then that she didn't know what name that reservation might be under.

Dani started looking around the restaurant for Eli, or for anyone that looked like her, and frowned when she didn't see her.

Eli had been fidgeting and looking at her phone until Alex told her to put it away, that she was sure Eli could tell them a little bit about how the semester had been going before they got caught up in the social interactions of the night. But Eli stopped mid sentence when she saw the hostess leading Dani and her family downstairs and she smiled brightly, waving.

Alex followed her daughter's eyes to their object, a smile already forming on her lips until she really got a better look at the young woman. She half opened her mouth to speak and simply moved her hand over Patrice's, squeezing it. She would know that face, those features only just softened, anywhere, and as she followed the line's natural course, her eyes fell on Abbie. She found herself standing, not trusting herself to speak. Of course. Of course her daughter would find Abbie Carmichael's daughter and start dating her. Of course.

And it was as Alex stood that Abbie notice her as well, though it took her quite some time to realize that they were headed to her table. She stopped a few feet away, watching as her daughter smiled innocently at the young lithe blonde next to her. "My God." Abbie wasn't one for theatrics, but she was vaguely anticipating some kind of very early April fools'. It was only when she caught a breath that she felt Taylor stop next to her, fingers pressing her lower back, encouraging her forward the last few steps, "Alex...you're...here."

"Abbie..." Alex found her voice but her throat felt dry. She needed another glass of wine. Eli was looking between them, furrowing her brow in a very good imitation of just the way Patrice did it, but she seemed to know better than to try to ask questions. Alex was rounding the table and she paused before pulling Abbie into a cautious hug, forgetting their children for the moment.

Abbie didn't know the protocol for being hugged after learning your daughter was dating the daughter of a woman whose funeral you went to as the grieving girlfriend, and so she just returned it. So very many thoughts were going through her head, and at that moment she saw the other blonde woman stand, offering her hand as Alex stepped away.

"Patrice LaRue, and I seem to be missing quite a bit here." Abbie numbly shook the offered hand, "Abbie Carmichael." She stepped aside as Taylor reached for the woman's hand as well, "And this is my partner, Taylor Hamilton." Then she fell silent, remembering why they were there in the first place, and glancing at Danielle almost apologetically.

Dani looked between her parents and Eli's, not understanding anything that was going on. She looked to Eli for some sort of clue, but it looked like Eli was just as confused as she was. The Senator, however, didn't seem to be quite as caught up, so Dani leaned into her. "You're gonna explain how you know each other, right?"

Taylor could only smile reassuringly at Dani as her hand returned to the small of Abbie's back. "We all worked in the DA's office together." It wasn't the entire truth, but it was a place to start explaining things to both the children and Patrice. And really, she wasn't sure that Dani needed all of the details.

"Yes..." Alex found her voice and came back to herself. She gave an apologetic look to Patrice, knowing that she would have to explain later and trusting that Patrice would understand why she hadn't talked about it before. "A lifetime ago," she said, forcing a smile as she returned to Patrice's side. "But this must be your daughter...Eli's girlfriend...God, what a coincidence..." She was moving them all to the table, numbly sitting down. Somewhere in the years together, she had inherited Patrice's tendency to babble sometimes.

Abbie nodded and sat, thinking she needed a drink, and felt Taylor's hand go immediately to her leg. It wasn't suggestive, simply grounding, and she started to relax.

"Right..." The word was flat, and Eli didn't realize just how much she sounded like Alex. She took a deep breath and smiled to Dani. "Well, Alex, Patrice...this is Dani. Uhm...surprise."

Patrice, not being a stranger to tense situations, just nodded across the table at the young brunette, thinking it was no great secret whose child she was out of the couple. "It's nice to meet you Dani." About that time was when the confusion faded enough to place the other blonde next to her, and she turned her smile to Taylor, "I think I still have one of your campaign stickers at home." Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Alex reaching for her drink, and she relaxed slightly.

As she thought back to it, Alex realized that it was probably strange that nothing had come up during the last campaign. Patrice and Eli were both ardent supporters of Taylor, and Alex had simply let the past be what it was...so much to the point that she simply hadn't even thought about that one night or the nights she watched Taylor and sometimes Taylor and Abbie while she was in Wisconsin.

"Well, thank you for the support." Taylor smiled genuinely as she picked up her menu. She was glad that the tension seemed to be dissipating, as she knew that Dani would pick up on it if it didn't, and that would leave her uncomfortable for the rest of the night. "So," Taylor turned to Eli, "you're a senior, right? What are you studying?"

"Oh, I'm pre-law," Eli answered readily. It didn't bother her at all that she was sitting at a table full of lawyers. It was a surprise that their parents knew each other, but Eli let it go. What bothered her was the way Alex reacted versus the way Patrice reacted. She wanted to find out about that later. "Just finishing everything up this year," she finished, smiling.

Abbie was starting to center herself, helped largely by having flagged down a waiter and ordering them drinks. She sipped hers while she considered the situation more rationally. She had known for a long time that Alex was alive and living her life. But she knew it in the same way she knew that her cousin Steve was alive and living his life after that second by-pass somewhere around San Antonio: It wasn't something she had expected to really come back into her life at a moment's notice. Still, she realized she wasn't jealous or really hurt anymore. Abbie was too happy and too many years had gone by for that.

She looked across the table thoughtfully. Patrice seemed sweet and maybe a shade or two warmer than someone she'd have expected Alex to end up with. The young woman sitting next to her clearly had inherited the woman's gift of banter, even if her features aligned more closely with Alex's. Soon Abbie had to stop herself from smiling too openly as she saw Danielle, usually more careful with her expressions, like Taylor, look at Eli with clear admiration and care. It was enough to make Abbie invested in the night going well, and she answered the young woman, "Congratulations in advance then. Are you thinking of going right on to school in the fall?"

Abbie's ease, whether real or not, made Alex breath easier and she pursed her lips as she swirled her refreshed glass of wine. "I certainly hope so. We spent most of the summer tramping around campuses. When it seems clear that she should be going to..." A look from Patrice made Alex pause, and the waitress taking their orders cut her off completely. Eli looked eternally grateful for that and was quick to speak up, leaning in and pursing her own lips. "Yes. I'm just finishing all of my applications."

Taylor had no desire to open the can of worms that seemed to now be sitting on the table, so she didn't ask just where Eli was thinking about. "Getting things done early is always good, though I know how you feel," she said to Alex. "It still causes me mortal pain that Dani isn't at the Naval Academy." She smiled at Dani, making sure she knew that she was kidding. The long running debate between them had turned into a joke.

Dani groaned and rolled her eyes. "Mother, please..." She flashed an apologetic smile to Patrice and Alex. "Nobody wants to hear about that." She squeezed Eli's hand under the table, and Eli picked up the conversation as if on cue. "So, if you guys used to work together, then you won't mind hanging out this weekend instead of doing some of the lame activities on campus..."

Abbie coughed slightly, setting her drink down, "Oh, I suppose we hadn't gotten that far." She smirked lightly at Taylor, "Someone missed their flight, something about business of the nation or some other excuse." She saw Dani looking hopeful, "I'm sure we can work something out."

Patrice looked over at the, admittedly striking, brunette and nodded, "Sure. though I'd hate to make the Senator miss the riveting tree tour of campus, or whatever they call it." She could see Alex giving her a look but largely ignored it. Either her partner would have to explain later or face the consequences.

Eli was relieved when the food got there, and she did her best to steer the conversation, asking Abbie about being a US attorney and making small talk about school and Manhattan. From what she could tell, there was definitely something weird between Alex and Abbie, but she was annoyed that she couldn't tell just what. And it wasn't like Alex would tell her...or Patrice knew to tell her. She'd have to discuss this with Theo, see if he could find anything out from Alex later. "I think I'm too full for dessert," she said as the waitress took their plates away. She put her hand on Dani's shoulder and smiled. It hadn't been catastrophic...unexpected, but not catastrophic.

"Yeah." Dani leaned into the hand, having to stop herself from putting her head on Eli's shoulder in front of their parents. She would ask the Senator just what had been going on when they went for their run the next morning, but trying to figure it out that night just wasn't going to happen.

Patrice looked at the two young women and smiled. She hadn't seen Eli so seemingly relaxed with anyone before, and Dani seemed obviously to be a sweet girl, and Patrice could tell, driven as well, though in a quieter way than Eli. The group slowly gathered themselves and moved out of the restaurant. When they reached the street, she could see the two young women immediately edging toward the campus. "I suppose we should let these two get some sleep." She chuckled, "They look like they've been putting in some hours in the library." Still, it wasn't too late, and she wondered if the rest of them might enjoy a drink to try and clear whatever was hanging in the air.

Dani tried not to sigh in relief at the obvious escape and she squeezed Eli's hand, which had somehow wound up in hers as they had left the restaurant, though she wasn't entirely sure how. "Yeah. I've actually got a project I need to finish." Dani desperately hoped that no one asked her about it. "But I'll drop by the hotel around eight for our run, Mom." Eight was pushing it a bit, but she hoped that her parents not having seen each other for a week might give her a chance to sleep in.

Taylor smiled and nodded. "Make it 7:30. I've got a conference call over breakfast."

Not to be outdone, Alex leaned in and kissed Eli's forehead before hugging her quickly. "Breakfast or brunch...call me when you wake up." Eli indicated that she would, knowing that Alex or Patrice would probably call her first because they didn't sleep until seven or eight like normal people. But if Dani had to be up at 7:30, it didn't really matter. They took their leave, each indicating how nice it was to meet the other's parents, and Eli had to admit that she breathed a little sigh of relief once they got out of earshot.

What they were leaving behind had a heaviness that she knew was not theirs the bear. There was something flicking in Alex's eyes that night that she had not seen before, and she would wager Dani would say the same of her mother. But before they disappeared, she simply glanced back, satisfied to see that their parents were moving down the sidewalk together.

Chapter Text

Alex took Patrice's hand, knowing she owed so much explanation but also knowing that Patrice's warmth and sense of social responsibility would lead her to ask the pair to drinks. And Alex could hardly stop her; it was only fair that she get to know the parents of the girl their daughter seemed remarkably serious about...for now.

Patrice squeezed Alex's hand and looked at her companions, "So, would you two care for a drink? I found a cozy little place just down the street in Eli's second year." She smiled at Alex. "Alex didn't believe me when I tried to tell her about it, but now we try to go when we're in town. Though you do sound like you have morning plans, so I won't blame you if you're headed back to the hotel." Besides the chance to get to know them better for Eli's sake, Patrice wasn't about to miss the chance to ask a senator to drinks.

"Believe me, a 9:00 meeting is late for Taylor." Abbie joked as she took Taylor's arm.

"Drinks sound good. We can... catch up." Taylor looked to Abbie, hoping that spending a few extra minutes with Alex wasn't too much. The entire situation was surreal, but she had spent enough time talking to people over the years that a hour of drinks theoretically wouldn't pose much of a problem. "Lead the way."

"Good then." Patrice motioned down the street and started off. As they walked she took up a light conversation with Taylor, noticing how Abbie hung back almost immediately to walk with Alex, and she tried not to wonder too much what they were saying.

"So...life is somethin' isn't it?" Abbie didn't quite know how to start the conversation, but it seemed more relaxed after they'd already spent two hours together.

Alex tried to arrange her thoughts as she watched Patrice and Taylor. She was happy for Abbie; she could say that with certainty when she had been bitter—so bitter—years before. Finally, she looked the brunette in the eye and smiled. "Abbie...I'm sorry," she said quietly, knowing she had to say those words before she could really relax, could really enjoy a conversation, even though it had been over twenty years.

Abbie met her eyes for a moment before looking away. She was almost surprised at how the words affected her, even so long after she'd learned about what had happened. The brunette reached out and put her hand on Alex's arm for a moment, "Thank you, but it definitely wasn't your fault." She took a breath, trying to say even some of what she had wanted to. "You know I almost didn't get out of bed for a week after your pretend funeral." Abbie smiled then, trying not to get too deep, "But it's always funny how things work out. I've never met anyone who's came back to life again."

She chuckled, "So Patrice, how did you two meet?" She could see Taylor starting to relax just in how she was holding herself, and that was enough of an endorsement of Alex's other half for her. Ahead, Patrice stopped seemingly in the middle of a street, and after a moment Abbie could see they were outside an arched door in a stone wall. She nodded in approval when Patrice pushed it open, revealing a long narrow bar room filled with groups of plush leather chairs around small low tables. Immediately she approved of the venue.

Alex let Patrice lead them to the spot she always, without fail, chose, if it was open. "We sat at opposite tables for a few cases." She smiled, chuckling lightly as she remembered having been on several dates with a few of the men in that position and how Abbie had teased her relentlessly about it later. "And I'm not sure what possessed me, but I gave her my number at the coffee shop across the street a couple of months after the last one." She sank into a chair beside Patrice and took her hand. "And the rest..." She shrugged. The rest was...quite a lot.. "That wasn't long before I left the DA's office."

Abbie laughed. "Ahh... the all-American lawyer love story then." She picked up the drink menu though she already knew what she was likely having.

Patrice caught up quickly on what had been said, "So, I'm sure I'm out of line here, " she smirked at Alex, "but if that's the case I know I'll just pay for it later, but are you all going to clue me in on the heard of elephants in the room, or should we order drinks first?" Patrice had never been overly coy, and the years just served to enhance the trait.

"Former lovers." Taylor motioned between the two other women. "At least until Alex died." Taylor figured that simple was better. Sometimes tact lost out to just getting the job done.

Even after all their years together, Patrice still managed to surprise Alex from time to time, and the look on her face showed as her eyes darted from Taylor to Abbie and back. She cleared her throat. "Right. Yes." She licked her lips. It was easier to talk about that time now, but parts of it still hurt, parts that were sitting right in front of her. "If I remember correctly," she said as she sipped her drink, "Taylor and Abbie still weren't speaking at that time. Actually...I'm not sure Abbie and I were speaking."

Patrice watched as Abbie's hand twitched like she wanted to shove, or slap, or at least touch Taylor for that comment. The blonde followed Alex's gaze, and thought she saw a hint of something more, something that was still left unsaid, but she let it pass, content to have something to get out of Alex later. She quite enjoyed Taylor's candor, thinking she must be almost frightening when angry—something else to ask Alex about by the look of it. She sipped her drink, "I see. Well, we all have a past." There wasn't a lot to say to the comment, but Patrice found herself getting a little lost in what Abbie and Alex must have looked like together at 26.

"I can't believe Eli and Dani..." Alex shook her head, chuckling lightly, letting the good memories come back. "She looks just like you Abbie..." Just as tall, just as leggy, but perhaps a little softer around the edges. She certainly shared some of Taylor's personality traits. But Alex could only imagine her temper.

Abbie blushed a little, "Thank you, I'm taking it as a compliment." She smiled, "And the kids are pretty cute together, I can tell Dani's happy, and sometimes it takes her awhile to trust someone."

Taylor couldn't stop the mischievous grin that tugged at the corners of her lips. "I caught them making out earlier. It was... adorable." She shook her head at the memory, though she was glad that she hadn't walked in on anything more risqué.

Alex raised her eyebrows and shook her head. "If we had a nickel for every time one of us walked in on Eli making out with a girl..." She squeezed Patrice's hand and looked to Taylor and Abbie. "I'm sorry, I don't want you to get the impression that Eli's going to break Dani's heart..." She shook her head and couldn't help but laugh lightly. "I don't think we've seen her so enamored of someone...or be quite so secretive about it."

Abbie took a sip of her drink and relaxed back into the soft leather of her chair. It was almost easy with so many years gone now, despite how surreal the situation was. Something seemed right about it, and she smiled as she raised her glass, "To young love then."

After taking a deep breath that was almost cleansing, Alex smiled as she raised her own glass, clinking it against Abbie's. "To young love...and...old friends." She put her hand on Patrice's knee and squeezed it lovingly.

"Hear, hear." Taylor lifted her glass as well. She was glad that the earlier tension seemed to have dissipated. To anyone looking in on them, it would have seemed like they really were old friends, and maybe they were, or at least were heading that way.

Chapter Text

Taylor took Abbie's hand as they slowly walked back to the hotel. Patrice and Alex had gone ahead of them and Taylor was content to enjoy the cooler air for as long as Abbie wanted. She squeezed her fingers supportively and smiled at her as they reached their room. Taylor held the door for Abbie and pulled out their hotel key. As they made their way into the room, Taylor leaned against the door and just looked at her wife. "I love you. I hope you know that."

Abbie looked back over her shoulder, then turned to face Taylor, holding her hand out to pull her over. It had been an unexpected night to say the least, and she was sure it would take some time. She smiled. "Yes, I do. And you know I love you too."

Taylor wrapped her arms around Abbie's waist and rested her forehead on Abbie's. "Of course I do." She hugged her tightly. "Are you going to be okay?" It wasn't every day that you ran into a dead girlfriend, even when you knew she wasn't dead anymore.

Sighing, Abbie looked up at the ceiling before refocusing on Taylor. "Yeah...yes...I just wasn't ready." She shook her head, "I mean...it's still just so strange."

"I know." Taylor tightened her arms around Abbie and kissed her lightly. "I know, sugar." She cupped Abbie's face in her hands and kept her close, brushing her cheek against hers. "It can't have been easy to see her again." She knew just how hard Abbie had taken Alex's death, and she didn't think she would ever forget the anguish in Abbie's voice when she had called and asked her to go to the funeral with her. "But you know that I'm not going anywhere, right? I'm always going to be here with you."

Abbie pushed back the rising panic she felt at the statement, tried to keep from arguing with it, telling Taylor there was no way to promise that. She closed her eyes and nodded silently, comforted by Taylor's skin on hers. Her voice caught, "I...I...hope so. God I love you Taylor." She didn't like to think what it might have been like had Taylor not been there for her.

"I'm not tempting fate Abbie. I'm not." Taylor kissed Abbie's temple and pulled her back into her arms, just holding her. "I keep my promises. I always have and I always will."

Whether it was relief or lingering sadness and shock, Abbie had no idea, but she leaned into Taylor's arms and let out a small sob. She could feel her tears soaking into the fabric of Taylor's shirt, and she just started pulling them back toward the bed. "Will you hold me? Please?"

"Of course." Taylor stepped away from Abbie only long enough to pull the covers back and slip out of her shoes. She didn't care about her shirt being wet or getting into bed fully clothed. The only thing that mattered was making Abbie well better, making her feel secure again. She crawled into bed and opened her arms.

"Thank you…" Abbie whispered under her breath and reached to quickly unzip her dress, shrugging it off before slipping into Taylor's arms, sighing when the blonde's arms closed around her. "I'm fine really." Or she would be.

Taylor slid her arm under Abbie's head, letting her rest against her shoulder as she tangled their legs together. "I know, baby." She kissed Abbie's forehead. "I know. It's okay if you need to cry, though. I've got you."

Abbie did, and she sniffed, starting to tug ineffectually at Taylor's clothes. Through her tears she laughed quietly. "You're still dressed in bed.."

"Yeah, baby." Taylor chuckled lightly. "I'll get undressed once you feel better. I just..." Taylor kissed her forehead again.

"Mmmhm.." Abbie was quieting, suddenly tired from the day. Finally, she caught her breath, the shock fading away. She pressed her lips to Taylor's neck, "Dani seems happy though." And really that's what mattered.

"Yeah, she does." Taylor ran her fingers through Abbie's hair. "Are you going to be okay if I get up and get undressed?" She wanted to wait until Abbie was going to be fine before she moved.

"Yes, I'm alright." It seemed silly that Taylor had to ask, but she knew Abbie too well. "Thank you Taylor." She watched as the blonde got up, and didn't move yet, just relaxed and thought through the night. Eventually she smiled. "And Patrice is sweet; you can see her personality in Eli." She laughed, "nothing like private practice to build the gift for small talk." Really, it had been good Patrice had been there, or the mood might have been different.

Taylor quickly put her clothing away and slipped back into bed, not bothering to put on a nightgown. "Yeah, I'll have to thank Patrice for that one day." She had been surprised enough that small talk had been difficult even for her. "I hope that Eli doesn't end up breaking Dani's heart." She wrapped her arms back around Abbie, settling her against her shoulder again.

"Me too." Abbie sighed, "but I don't think she will if she can help it. Just something in the way they looked at each other, I don't know." She shifted to push further into Taylor's arms, "But we can't protect her from life, and Dani's stronger than I usually give her credit for. It's hard to remember she's an adult now sometimes." God it seemed like the years had vanished, like it was just days ago they had only been joking having about children, and then here they were...

"Yeah." Taylor lightly kissed Abbie, wanting to comfort her, wanting her to be closer. "I forget that she's an adult too. But in my defense, she's still a very, very young adult. A baby adult."

Abbie's mood was lifting, and she turned to Taylor, offering her a small smirk, "A baby adult who's probably going to bed with Alex's daughter." Abbie knew it would drive Taylor crazy, but after the night they'd had it seemed anything should go.

"I am not thinking about that." Taylor kissed Abbie lightly. "I am not thinking about it. Dani is safely asleep in her own bed all alone. At least, that's what I'm telling myself." Taylor kissed the tip of Abbie's nose.

Abbie smiled, batting her eyes almost comically at Taylor, "Of course, dear, just like I'm sure you were every night when you were her age."

"I was at Annapolis when I was her age. In fact, I did spend my nights alone. It was significantly harder for me to find women to sleep with and harder than that to find someplace to do it." Taylor smirked back at her.

Abbie caught the light in Taylor's expression, now recovered from her earlier shock. She lay back and pulled the blonde over her, smiling up at the other woman, letting her voice grow teasing, "Oh, poor baby...maybe you should make up for lost time then."

"I've been doing that all of my life." Taylor chuckled and pushed her leg between Abbie's, kissing her with surprising intensity.

"Mmmnn..." Abbie quickened at Taylor's quick movements. She had never stopped being able to make Abbie's stomach drop like that. She pulled Taylor closer, pressing against her skin, "I know."

Taylor kissed her again, rubbing her nipples. "And did you know that you're my life?" She kissed down Abbie's neck and across her collarbones.

God, Abbie loved when Taylor said things like that, it made her melt- just completely melt. She took a breath and wrapped the blonde in her arms, smiling genuinely, "and you're mine."

"I know." Taylor smiled contentedly and slid a hand down her torso to the tops of her thighs. "I love you." She slipped her hand between Abbie's legs and pushed her fingers into her. After all of the years, Abbie felt completely familiar and completely wonderful.

Abbie relaxed and wrapped a leg around Taylor, pushing her further into her. "I love you too." And she did, and it had been the strength of that love that had made so much possible.

"So much." Taylor slid down Abbie's body under the covers, settling between her legs and started licking her.

"Taylor..." Abbie couldn't help grabbing for Taylor's hair, tightening her fingers in it. "...shit" She pushed down into the mattress, squirming under the touch.

"Mmm." Taylor kept licking Abbie, pushing her tongue against her clit as she pushed her fingers further into her. The way Abbie felt, the way she tasted, it was perfect. It was always perfect.

Abbie whimpered. Taylor was playing her body perfectly, and soon she was twisting and moaning contentedly. "Taylor..." Abbie breathed the name as she finally relaxed, and reached her arms out to pull Taylor up.

Taylor was smirking again as she settled in Abbie's arms, rolling onto her back and pulling Abbie on top of her. "Mmhmm." Taylor nuzzled against Abbie's cheek. "Can I do something for you?"

Abbie grinned and shook her head slowly and leaned down to kiss Taylor, taking her time. She slowly pressed against Taylor's leg, "mmm...plenty...." She kept moving against her, "...but you already do so much....handling me so well when old flames show up unexpectedly and whatnot." Abbie smiled and kissed her again, "then again you knew her a bit as well."

Taylor chuckled. "Something tells me that won't be happening again." Taylor settled further into the bed and pressed her leg up against Abbie.

"Probably not, but I think you liked it." She kept moving, alternately kissing Taylor's neck, nipping playfully, "you do like it when people follow your directions."

"Is there some reason that you think I'd deny liking it?" Taylor tilted her head to give Abbie better access to her neck. "God, it's a good thing Alex isn't much for talking, or she could have derailed this second career of mine before it even started." It had never occurred to Taylor before.

Abbie bit down a little harder, "If you don't stop talking about your career, I'm going to gag you. You know the rules darlin' " There were just things Taylor wasn't allowed to bring into their bedroom, and a hotel was not exception.

"Is that a promise?" Taylor arched up against Abbie's mouth and tried not to moan too loudly. Taylor had gotten much more relaxed about letting Abbie see that part of herself over the years.

Instead on answering, Abbie just kissed Taylor again and covered the blonde's lips with her long fingers. She moaned, letting herself push, and soon feeling herself growing close again. Abbie could see Taylor watching, and leaned down to whisper in her ear, "go on....I know you're ready."

"Ohh..." Taylor arched up against Abbie and reached down to start touching herself. She darted her tongue out against Abbie's fingers and tried to nip at them, though the angle was all wrong. She rubbed her own clit as she watched Abbie move against her, as she felt Abbie against her thigh.

"Yes..." Abbie started to come, slower this time. Her fingers were shaking, still trying to stay over Taylor's mouth, though they could stifle little noise.

Abbie's fingers might not have physically been able to keep her silent, but the attempt was enough, and Taylor bit her lip to stifle her moan as she pushed herself over the edge, joining Abbie, loving the closeness on the moment. "God, I love you." Abbie's fingers slipped and she kissed her deeply. "I love you so much."

"I...I love you too..." She was still breathless, and Abbie knew Taylor was well aware, but she loved saying it. She quietly rolled over, pulling Taylor's arms around her, "and I'm alright, I promise." She laughed as Taylor reached for the blankets, "and I think I'll still be right here when you get back from your run tomorrow."

Taylor chuckled and pulled Abbie even closer. "I am not surprised by that in the least." The day Abbie joined her and Dani on an early morning run would be the day hell froze over. Taylor switched off the light and rested her cheek against the outside of Abbie's shoulder.

Chapter Text

Alex took off her necklace and her earrings and carefully put them away. Patrice was already dressed for bed and lounging as she read the weekend schedule for the parents. And before Alex got up to undress, she glanced at her partner's reflection in the mirror. They had been relatively quiet since they parted with their dinner companions; Alex knew Patrice was giving her time to process. She wasn't sure that she was really able to do that yet, but she methodically slipped out of her clothes and into her nightgown before perching next to Patrice. She smiled as she plucked the schedule of her hand and leaned down for a kiss. "Eli is going to want to skip half of those."

Patrice looked up, glad that Alex seemed to be staying in a good mood. She hadn't known at all what to expect after the tension of the night. She knew the other blonde better than anyone, but with the night they had just had, it would have been anyone's guess what was going on in Alex's head. It didn't help at all that Patrice didn't know much about parts of her partner's past. "I know, and I don't mind. I didn't come up here to look at flowers, I came to spend an uninterrupted weekend with my favorite women." Patrice stood and took Alex's hands, pulling her toward the bed. "You alright though?"

"I'm fine." It didn't matter that Alex knew Patrice would know she was trying to pass the evening off. She flashed a vaguely insincere smile anyway and allowed Patrice to pull her down to the bed with her. "Really. I'm glad the girls are happy."

Patrice didn't believe her really, but sometimes it took Alex a while to be ready to say what she was thinking. She nodded and pulled Alex into a kiss, letting her hands lazily feel her, working her fingers gently where she knew Alex was always sore from long hours at work. "Yes, me too. I think Eli's quite smitten, and Dani's a sweet girl." She kissed her again, and started running her fingers through her hair, "She looks just like her mother."

"She does," Alex admitted, her voice getting a little distant. Her eyes, however, were focused only on Patrice. Even the anger, even the bitterness that seeing Abbie made her remember couldn't cloud what she had with Patrice, what they had built together. She settled into Patrice's touch and groaned appreciatively, raking her fingers through Patrice's hair. "I love you...you know I love you?"

Chuckling, Patrice pulled Alex a bit closer, "I know, and you know I love you too." She kissed the other blonde's shoulder, "And I also know you're not telling me even half of what you're thinking about." She gave Alex an only half-kidding look, silently reminding her they both had their ways of fixing such issues.

Alex didn't need to acknowledge that Patrice was right. She merely kissed the blonde and wrapped her arms around her as she moved closer. "I loved her once. The last time I saw her she told me to go home, to get out and lay low for my own protection, and I was..." She shook her head as her eyes became glassy with long unshed tears. "Well, you can imagine. And when I saw her again...it was on television...smiling right beside Taylor." She curled her fingers around Patrice's hip, pulling her closer.

Patrice kissed Alex's temple. "I could tell she meant a lot to you, there's no hiding that." And now the picture was clearer, but she wasn't jealous, things were too settled. Patrice weighed how much to push, deciding it was time. "And you didn't tell her did you?"

Alex pulled away slightly and cast her eyes down for a moment. Patrice knew her so well, even if she didn't know every detail, she could tell. She sighed, knowing she couldn't deflect that with a mere kiss. "I was bitter, angry..."

Patrice pulled her back, holding her closer than before, though she could feel Alex resisting, "That Abbie moved on, or that you were in the middle of nowhere and couldn't?" The question might land her on the couch for the night, but it was worth the risk.

"Both...both..." Alex admitted almost desperately. It was as if she had been aching to say as much without realizing it, and the words came out before she could stop them. So did her tears. She pressed fully into Patrice then, letting herself be vulnerable, reminding herself that she would end up that way anyway. "She and Taylor had...everything I wanted...everything."

"Shhh....." Patrice kept holding Alex while she cried, letting her work it through. These moments were few and far between. "It's alright, you're fine." She waited until Alex was settling until she caught her breath, before she shifted her tone, sensing Alex was ready. Patrice kissed away a few of the other woman's tears. "Well, for what it's worth, I'm glad she ran off to be a Senator's wife; it's sure worked out well for me."

"God...so am I," Alex admitted, breaking into grateful, humorless laughter. She smiled and pulled Patrice into a kiss, relief and simple joy washing over her. And Alex pressed into her, suddenly needing to feel nothing but her.

Patrice didn't protest, a smile still on her lips as she felt Alex relax. She started to let her fingers roam over the silk of Alex's nightgown, "So, are you going to tell me how she was?" Patrice prepared for a glare, "Or is it too soon?"

Alex opened her mouth immediately to speak, but she stopped, considering for a moment. There was a little glint in Patrice's eyes, and when she recognized it, a slow smile spread across her face. "She was enthusiastic," she said, shifting so as to accommodate Patrice's touches. "And thoroughly...maddeningly selfish...in the best way."

Patrice grinned and slipped one of the straps of Alex's nightgown off her shoulder, and leaned in to kiss her neck, "Mmhmm...I could see that." She slid the other strap down as Alex moved to let her, "And she doesn't seem like the type to wear anyone's collar, am I right?"

"Not at all." Alex pulled her arm out of the strap and let the other one fall as she ran her fingers over Patrice's hips. "But she does behave very well for Taylor...if I remember correctly." She smirked, thinking back to that night.

Raising on of her eyebrows, Patrice quickly dragged Alex's nightgown off, reaching to pull the blonde into her arms, "Oh really? Was she now?" She should have expected as much, knowing what she did of Alex. "And did you as well?"

Alex licked her lips lightly, considering playing at being coy. "Have you ever known me to be...particularly well behaved when it comes to unexpected situations?" She asked, raising one of her eyebrows. She kissed along Patrice's jaw, smiling to herself. "I was very...young."

"I see." Patrice moved to pull Alex under her, kissing her neck, and starting to trail her fingers over the other blonde's body, "You can manage it...with the right direction." She smirked outwardly at the thought.

"It does take..." Alex shifted her Patrice's touch and began to work the blonde's shirt up, touching her skin almost hungrily, "a certain type of hand..." And they had certainly been through many, many scenarios in which Alex's talents were put on display. "But then again...one could certainly say the same of you. And I'm very..." She kissed underneath Patrice's ear. "Glad that I get to be stingy with you sometimes..."

Patrice laughed lightly and shrugged out of her shirt as Alex pulled it up, "I know you are…" She ran her fingers lightly up the other blonde's thigh, pausing before touching her where she wanted it, "but I still can't believe you didn't let on you'd been with a Senator...even if she wasn't one at the time."

"You know how I hate to brag," Alex teased. It was as if the one moment of vulnerability had loosened something inside of her that she hadn't completely realized she was holding so tenaciously. And she felt lighter...even though she knew she wouldn't, couldn't, completely let those years go, she felt lighter. She walked her fingers up Patrice's chest, pausing, hovering over the blonde's sternum before gently cupping one of her breasts, running her thumb along the bottom curve before moving her fingers over the nipple. "We made a bet once—Abbie and I." she said, half smiling, knowing Patrice would be aroused even as she was amused. "She didn't think I could...surprise her. She didn't think I would be so bold as to get on my knees in her office..." The irony, so many years later, was almost too much.

Patrice laughed, but the thought was making her wet, "God, Alex, I hope you won, even if it means I have to give up my fantasy that my office was the first one you'd been on the floor of."

"Well..." Alex was smirking as she kissed Patrice lightly, "it was certainly the first one for the other side." The rest of the night with Abbie was vague in her memory. The thought still brought back chills, but there were so many other memories that filled Alex now. She kissed Patrice again, deeper, firmer this time.

When the kiss broke, Patrice finally slipped her fingers between Alex's legs, starting to touch her. She nipped at the other woman's neck and smiled again, "I suppose I'll have to be satisfied with that, and that I'm the one who still gets to see you on your knees now and then." And she did still so love those moments.

"Mmm...I..." Alex moaned, losing a coherent train of thought. She squirmed into Patrice's touch, ready for it, needing it still. And she didn't wait to touch Patrice in return, moaning louder at how wet she found the blonde. "You are...mmm...still so wonderful..."

"Alex..." Patrice moaned and kissed her again, loving how Alex mirrored her actions. Soon she was pressing against the other woman harder, feeling herself getting close already.

Alex's breath caught, and she closed her eyes, her climax taking her by surprise and overwhelming her. She pressed into Patrice, squirming. She continued to touch the blonde, fingers moving erratically, desperately.

Patrice wasn't far behind, and she moaned, arching her back, mouth open slightly as she came. Slowly, they both relaxed, and Patrice quietly pulled Alex's arms around her, folding into the other woman's body. Her voice was quieter, content, "thank you Alex, thank you for telling me." Joking aside she knew it hadn't been easy, and she felt it needed to be said.

"There are so many things I should have said sooner," Alex murmured as she slowly pulled the coverlet up around them and settled into Patrice's warm arms. She knew Patrice understood, would continue to understand, and she smiled against her skin. "Thank you for listening..." Alex closed her eyes, content.

Chapter Text

As they walked back to campus, Eli kept the mood light and casual up until the point where she unlocked her door and sighed as they went into her room. "Well that was...beyond a thousand moments of awkwardness," she said as she flopped onto her bed. She smiled up at Dani and shook her head as she chuckled. She was expecting a slightly stuffy, slightly awkward dinner...not this. But it wasn't bad. The world was small—Patrice always said that.

"Yeah. Totally." Dani shook her head and crawled on top of Eli. "But things seemed to have worked themselves out." She ducked down for a light kiss. "And I'll ask the Senator just what else was going on when we go running in the morning."

"I wish you would," Eli murmured as she wrapped her arms around Dani and pulled her down flush against herself. "Alex and your mother just...both looked like they'd seen ghosts."

"Yeah. I'll see how much I can get out of her." Dani shook her head, pushing away the memories. She didn't want to be thinking about their mothers while she made out with her girlfriend. "So, uh, can we talk about how you tried to use my mom to impress your parents?" She was smirking.

"I have no..." Eli began to before kissing Dani soundly, trying to deflect, "no idea...what you're talking about."

"I think that you know exactly what I'm talking about," Dani slid one of her legs between Eli's, "and I think that you're afraid that I might be upset with you. Or you were earlier, for about half a second, before you forgot about it."

"I know exactly what you're doing, Dani," Eli murmured as she shifted, reversing their positions so that she was looking down at Dani. She smirked. "And I'm not biting. So...you can think whatever you'd like, but the only thing I'm interested in right now is impressing you."

"I think you should be more concerned with apologizing to me, but I suppose impressing me would work." Dani wrapped her arms around Eli's neck. "So how are you going to impress me?"

"Same way I always do, baby," Eli quipped. She was already trying to work off Dani's jeans, prolonging the contact for as long as she could before she had to get up. "But you're much...much too dressed for that right now."

"That word... 'same'," Dani shook her head. "I don't know if that sounds particularly impressive." But Dani didn't waste any time wriggling out of her pants and kicking them away.

"Mm...we'll see." Eli nipped at her bottom lip as she kissed it and quickly pushed away from Dani. She winked as she went to her closet, and moments later, she was tightening her harness around her hips.

"God, you look good like that." Dani pulled her shirt off and unhooked her bra, lying back on the bed and waiting for Eli to come back. "But I'm still not impressed." She bit her lip as she shook her head.

"Could've fooled me." Eli put her hands on her hips and slowly sauntered over. She stopped just short of the bed and began to stroke the toy with one hand while beckoning Dani over with her other. "Come here, Dani."

Dani licked her lips as she crawled down the length of the bed. "Did you want something, Eli?" She batted her eyes up at Eli as she flicked her tongue against the very tip of the dildo.

"Not that..." Eli purred as she pulled Dani up gently by her hair. "You like that too much." She pulled the brunette into a hard kiss and then turned her in her arms before bending her over the bed.

"I thought the point of this was to enjoy it." Not that Dani wasn't enjoying the way that Eli was touching her, moving her, making her do as she wanted. "And what makes you think that I'm not going to enjoy this?" In fact, her stomach had dropped pleasantly when Eli had stopped her.

"Mm...because it's too simple, too predictable..." And it was hardly as if their new position, with Eli pressing against Dani's back, wasn't simple. But it was different for Dani, and Eli knew she would enjoy it. She pushed her hips forward, rubbing the cock against Dani.

"Oh," Dani pushed back against the toy, encouraging Eli to push it into her. "Please..." She shivered, feeling her own wetness as the dildo brushed against the leg.

"This...new...exciting...interesting enough for you?" Eli teased as she reached around the brunette to tweak her nipples.

"Uhuh," Dani whimpered, trying to get in closer contact with Eli. "Plenty exciting. Incredibly exciting. God, Eli, fuck me." She twisted her hands in the sheets.

Eli moaned lightly at the desperation in Dani's voice. She pushed the dildo inside of her and began to pump evenly, holding her hips tightly. "Touch yourself..."

"Oh, Eli..." She whimpered, hand automatically going to her own clit, doing as Eli wanted. As soon as her fingers rubbed against it, her hips bucked back, pushing the dildo further into herself. She was close to coming, but he wanted to hear Eli's voice.

"That's it, babe," Eli whispered, kissing Dani's shoulders. She could feel the pressure of the base of the dildo against her clit, and she was trying to keep her rhythm instead of squirming. "Let me feel you come...let me hear you..."

Dani whimpered. It was Eli's favorite thing to request, and it never failed to embarrass her. When she moaned, she did it for Eli, even as her skin turned bright red and her fingers hesitated over her clit for a split second. When she touched it again, it was enough to make her come and she shuddered as her knees buckled.

Eli held her through it, moaning herself and reveling in the sounds, in the feel of Dani's body as it shook and quieted. She sighed softly and pulled away, turning Dani so that she could kiss her lightly. Eli stroked her side and smiled, knowing she was going to feel just as good as soon as Dani recovered.

Chapter Text

Abbie smiled to herself as she flipped the small towel over her shoulder, listening to the insistent sound of small toes tapping against the kitchen island behind her. She picked up the plastic plate, and put the sandwich in front of her daughter. "There you are, darlin', one peanut butter and jelly- hold the peanut butter."

She took a moment to watch Dani grin back and reach for the plate. She couldn't deny her daughter, even at four, could have stepped right out of an old Carmichael family photo—all dark hair and eyes and already taller than most of her friends.

Dani took a bite before catching her mother's eyes, and mumbling "thank you." Abbie didn't have the will to correct her, and just smiled and turned around to clean the counter. She knew to enjoy the last few days before she would be back in trial, and even with Taylor still in DC for the week, was determined to make the most of them. Sunlight streamed through the windows of the apartment, and she mindlessly took a bite of the bread crust she'd cut off Dani's sandwich, enjoying the small, contented sounds coming from behind her.

Dani took another too big bite of her sandwich and chewed it very deliberately, thoroughly enjoying the sweetness of the jelly. She couldn't believe that her mommy would just give it to her when it tasted so much like candy and she knew she wasn't supposed to eat candy before dinner. She got jelly on one of her fingers and sucked it into her mouth, trying to get every last bit. She didn't notice the way it was ringing her mouth. "Mommy, am I ever gonna have any brothers or sisters?" Allison's new baby sister had come with her mommy to pick her up from pre-school and it had left Dani wondering.

Abbie paused, the water still running into the sink, and looked over her shoulder at Dani. The question was so easy, pure, and the child had already shifted her attention back to a drop of spilled jelly on her plate before Abbie could come up with an answer. "I don't think so, hun." She shut off the water, and turned around, leaning on the counter, "You're all I could ever want, and then some." And Abbie knew it was the truth, despite what she might have thought she wanted years before. They were lucky- so lucky- to have Dani there and happy, that any other wants seemed so far away now. Abbie stood a moment longer, looking at her daughter, trying to tell if the question was more serious than it seemed. "Why do you ask, sugar?"

"Because then I could play with them when you and mother are busy on the phone." Dani licked the last of the jelly off her hand, though the better part of it was still on her cheek.

Abbie bit back a small pang of guilt at the innocent remark, "Sorry we get busy sometimes, Dani, but the Lord was good enough to give us you, and I think this is the way our family was meant to be." It was a rare moment when Abbie found her quietly but deeply held beliefs come to the surface, but reflecting on life's unanswerable questions tended to coax it out of her. She took a breath and smiled then, "And you know, Dani, if you did have a brother or sister, then you'd have to share your toys with them."

The child seemed to consider this statement for a moment, then shrugged, "Okay." Dani kicked her feet against the counter, forgetting that she wasn't supposed to do that. "Allison has a sister now. And Michael and Tim are twins," she said very matter-of-factly. "That means they were born at the same time."

Abbie smiled, never able to dwell long on much of anything with Dani around, "You're absolutely right Dani." She took the now empty plate away and put it in the sink. "And speaking of Allison, something tells me you wouldn't mind us going to see if she wants to go to the park?"

"Okay, Mommy." Dani smiled brightly, still kicking her feet against the counter.

Chapter Text

When she'd found the small external drive in an old purse, Eli hadn't thought much about it. She'd only plugged it in out of curiosity, and now Eli's mouth was hanging open the entire time she clicked through the pictures. She did it quickly, almost thinking that someone would walk in and stop her or that they would disappear or something. But when she finally found some sort of rational part of herself, she went through each more thoughtfully, just staring. She knew she should take the drive to Alex and be done with it, that this was something that was probably really private to her, but she couldn't help it. Her mother looked so young, and Dani's mother looked so... Eli was gaping, and she had completely forgotten that Dani was coming over.

"Hey." Dani tapped on Eli's door as she walked into her room. "Theo let me in. Is there some reason that you're curled up with your computer, staring, instead of kissing me hello?"

"What?" Eli looked up sharply and half closed her computer before quickly pushing it aside. She blinked, bringing herself back to the moment and away from that picture where it was very, very clear where Dani got her legs. "Hey..."

"You're, uh, looking a little preoccupied." Dani looked at her quizzically as she leaned down for a kiss. "Something particularly interesting on there?" Dani reached for the computer, fully expecting to find some sort of porn on the screen.

"I..." Eli ran her hands through her hair, ducking her head slightly. "Yeah...I found an old box, and there was a cool bag in it...and I found this flash drive...and..." She shrugged and coughed.

"So you've been looking at pictures of my mom all afternoon?" Dani wasn't exactly sure how she felt about that.

"Dani!" Eli snapped, half mortified because she had been doing just that. She pulled the computer away and clicked to the next picture, which was of Abbie and Alex smiling on the deck of a sailboat or something. "They're of your mom and Alex..."

"Oh, wow." Dani blinked at the picture. She had never seen her mother look at anyone but the Senator like that. It was one thing to know that one of your parents had dated someone, had fallen in love with someone else before they had fallen in love with their partner, but it was another thing entirely to see such clear evidence of it. "They... they look really happy."

"Yeah..." Eli furrowed her brow before rubbing her head. There were a lot where they looked like that, and it made their reactions at the dinner where they were supposed to "meet" make some more sense. But Eli hadn't been able to get anything out of Alex about Abbie. "I guess they dated for a while..."

"Looks like it." The Senator hadn't really gone into the details when she had asked, but maybe it was time to ask again. "I can talk to the Senator. Try to get something more specific about what happened. I mean, she has to know." Dani hadn't really thought about just how attractive Eli's mother would have been 20 years earlier, but the pictures made it abundantly clear. It was easy to see Eli in her.

"I don't know..." Eli was mindlessly flipping through the pictures, and she didn't really realize that she was rubbing Dani's legs. She bit her lip as she looked. Her mothers were absolutely head over heels for each other and completely perfect for each other, and it was so much so that Eli had a hard time seeing Alex looking at someone else like that--even if it was in still life, in the past. "I should really give these back to Alex."

Dani shifted her leg under Eli's touch, scooting closer to her. She could tell that Eli didn't really know what her hand was doing, but she was perfectly aware of it. With her fingertips on Eli's chin, she turned Eli's face toward her. "Do you maybe have a little thing for my mom's legs?"

"What..." Eli flushed and pursed her lips in a very good and very subconscious imitation of her mother. "No... I mean, you...you have great legs."

Dani chuckled and moved the computer, happily replacing it with herself as she straddle Eli's lap. "Uh huh. That's totally what you've been thinking about all afternoon. My great legs... That I totally got from my mother."

"Shut up," Eli breathed, moving in to kiss Dani hard. The brunette was absolutely right, and Dani had been just shy of thinking it out-right since she saw the first picture that featured an unobstructed view of Abbie's legs.

"Mmm," Dani moaned into the kiss, wanting to simply melt into Eli, but she pulled away. This was simply too good to stop teasing her about so easily. "You've got a little crush on my mom now, don't you?"

Eli pursed her lips and huffed slightly. She wasn't good at being teased...Patrice had always said she got it honestly. "Yeah...you think you might have some tips for me to get her away from the senator?"

Dani ignored the mildly annoyed look on Eli's face. "Never going to happen." She shook her head and laughed. "Unless you've got a time machine hiding in your closet, or something. Though she really does like it when someone bakes for her..."

"I'm not sure she's really my type," Eli teased as she pushed Dani off of her and climbed on top of her.

"And just what is your type?" Dani wrapped her arms around Eli's neck and smirked up at her.

"Mmm..." Eli kissed Dani's neck, nipping at the tender spot underneath her ear. "Younger...I like younger women."

"Ah..." Dani shivered at the feel of Eli's teeth against her skin. "Is that what you like about me?" She wrapped her legs around Eli's waist and waited. She wasn't feeling like being particularly proactive in that moment, though she was starting to wonder just where Eli was hiding her strap-on.

"Mmhm..." Eli ran her hands up Dani's legs, moaning softly. "Yeah, definitely..." She was pushing underneath the brunette's shorts, working her hands around to find that Dani was already wet.

"Ahhhhh," Dani sighed, shifting up into Eli's hand as her insides melted completely. "You should lock the door, and put on some music or something." Dani ran her fingers through Eli's hair, scratching at her scalp and tried to think of a non-ridiculous way for Eli to fuck her without having to take her shorts off.

"God...shut up, Dani..." Briefly, she wondered if Dani's mother talked so damned much, but Eli very, very quickly put that out of her mind. She unzipped the brunette's shorts without taking them off and pushed two fingers into Dani.

"Oh, fuck." Dani arched up off of the bed, pushing Eli's fingers further into herself. "God that feels good." Her entirely body was humming with arousal slowly pulsing through her veins, but it wasn't yet urgent and she settled back onto the bed to enjoy whatever it was that Eli decided to do to her.

"Didn't I tell you to shut up?" Eli asked, cocking her head. She shifted, pulling her own panties off from under her tennis skirt, and then she balled them and pushed them into Dani's mouth. Eli smirked as she continued to thrust; she was quite proud of herself.

Dani's eyes went wide as she struggled not to push the gag out of her mouth with her tongue. It took her a second to get used to breathing through her nose, but once she did, she realized that her arousal had become much more acute. She could feel her nipples getting hard and pushing against her bra, and she lifted her hips up again.

Alex nearly tripped and found herself grabbing the scruff of Alabaster's neck to steady herself. She looked up at Patrice helplessly as she realized that the leash was somehow wrapped around her ankles and one wrong move would land her flat on her face. "Catch..." she said, tossing the keys to Patrice, who was already at the door.

Patrice had to take a step to catch the flying keys, but snatched them out of the air even as she rolled her eyes at Alex. "You ok there?" She laughed lightly at the other blond and unlocked the door as Alex just gave up and let Alabaster run through the newly opened door, trailing the leash after.

Dani moaned loudly behind the gag as Eli brushed her thumb over her clit, twisting underneath the other woman as she tried desperately to get enough contact to come.

The moan hit Alex's ears just as the sound of Alabaster's steps disappeared into the kitchen. She shut the door quietly and looked to Patrice, raising her eyebrows. "I'm guessing that Dani's over today..."

Patrice paused as she closed the door, noticing an extra pair of shoes in the entry, and Eli's door closed. She smiled at Alex, "seems that way," She feigned an exasperated sigh, "I'm not ready to be a grandmother just yet."

Alex chuckled as she kissed Patrice's cheek. "Why don't we do that cold chickpea salad for dinner that Theo likes so much." It was too quick and too easy to make, and Alex was smirking. "I'll let them know..."

Patrice smiled and pulled Alex into a quick kiss before going into the kitchen. It was almost wrong to interrupt....whatever was happening...almost. She started pulling things out of the fridge, "Alright, but I'm sure they're just studying."

"Theo, Eli," Alex called just has she always had, "come and help your mother and me with dinner." They could hear the faint sounds of music from Theo's room, and she distinctly heard all noise but scrambling cease in Eli's room. Alex waited half a moment before tapping on the door and opening it, smirking as she remembered a time when this had happened before. Then, she had looked on quite readily, but now, when it was her daughter, she kept her eyes down. "Oh, hello, Danielle."

"Hello, ma'am." Dani was beet red. She had only just gotten her shorts refastened and she was sure that the room still smelled like sex. She tried to smile, but it was a losing battle.

"Alex..." Eli licked her lips and brushed her hair back as she cleared her throat. She wished she could say this was the first time. "We're a little..." But with a warning look from Alex, she just flashed a smile. "Dinner, yeah. Be there in a sec."

Alex chuckled as she closed the door and headed back to the kitchen, wrapping her arms around Patrice from behind. "I think I might have stopped them short of any accidents," she joked as she kissed Patrice's neck. "Just make sure they wash their hands."

Patrice leaned back against Alex, looking over her shoulder at the other woman, "You had to, didn't you?" She shook her head and went back to preparing the food.

"She should know by now to lock the door and turn some music on," Alex replied as she pulled away and started washing some lettuce for a salad.

Eli straightened her clothes and ejected the drive from her computer, tucking it away in her pocket. She wanted to give it to Alex, but something made her hesitate in even thinking about it. There were so many things that Alex kept to herself, that Patrice served as a source of information on. She decided it might be safe to just go ahead and give it to Patrice later when they could talk about it. She turned to Dani. "Hey...sorry..." She bit her lip, smiling apologetically. "I'll make it up to you later, but...stay for dinner."

"It's, uh..." Dani shifted slightly, still turned on, and still very wet, "it's cool. But you are so going to finish this tonight." And she was going to have to try very hard to concentrate on something else during dinner. She stepped closer to Eli and kissed her lightly. "And I'd be happy to stay for dinner."

Chapter Text

The drive had stayed in Eli's pocket, and through dinner, she forgot about it. In fact, she forgot about it until days later when she picked that particular pair of shorts out of the basket when she was sorting her laundry and it dropped out onto the floor. Eli bit her lip as she picked it up, immediately remembering the pictures there and feeling almost guilty for having looked at them with such a morbid curiosity. She weighed the device in her hand and sighed softly, glad Alex had chosen that Saturday afternoon to get out of the house—Eli assumed, to go into the office. She squeezed the drive in her palm and picked up her basket, balancing it on her hip. "Hey, Patrice..." she called as she made her way to the laundry room. Her mother was doing laundry, and if Alex wasn't home, Eli wasn't going to miss the chance to have hers done for her.

Patrice smiled as Eli came in with more than an extra load of laundry. She just held out her arms to take the basket, "Hey Eli, the drycleaning already out of this?" She had learned it the hard way a few times. Patrice had made a point of making the kids do their own chores when they lived at home, but now it almost made her nostalgic to do a bit of them when they came home from school.

"In a rare moment of charity, Alex offered to drop it off this morning." She smiled and lingered for a moment, going to the dryer and sliding on top of it like she had done when she was little. Eli opened her palm and looked down at the drive, taking a deep breath. There was no point in trying gear up to it; Patrice would be able to tell that something was on her mind—she always could. "I found a box of some of Alex's old stuff, and she said I could take whatever I wanted from it." The bag she took was unimportant; it was cool and would suit her needs, but that was beside the point. "I found this..." she said, holding up the drive.

Patrice took the drive and looked at it, slightly confused, "Does it still work?" It was obviously not new technology, and she had no idea what might be on it.

"Yeah..." Eli laughed lightly. "I didn't think it would, but I plugged it into my computer...." She shrugged as she thought of where to go with the next part of her explanation. Patrice knew what she'd been up to with Dani the day she found the drive, but Eli saw no reason to connect the two events. "There are a ton of pictures...of Alex and the Senator's wife." It didn't occur to her that Patrice might be jealous when she said it.

Patrice raised an eyebrow, pausing with her hand midway to the laundry basket again. "Really?" And she could tell by Eli's expression that they probably weren't pictures from the DA's office. She wasn't exactly shocked, not after learning what little Alex told her after they met Dani's parents. "So I suppose you've put two and two together then?" She smiled a little, it had to be as strange for Eli as it possibly could be for her.

"Dani went running with the Senator after you guys...met." She shrugged and slid off of the dryer to lean against it. With Patrice, she didn't try to hide how conflicted she felt about this. "She said the Senator told her they dated. They look..." Eli let out a breath as she ran her fingers through her hair, pursing her lips before she continued. "Well, I probably shouldn't have looked. but...why didn't Alex say anything?"

Patrice leaned back against the wall, crossing her arms as she looked at Eli more seriously, "I can't say I blame you for looking, I'd be curious too." In all honesty, she still was a little, "But I suspect Alex just didn't want to bring it up with you because it's hard for her to talk about. It's got nothing to do with you, you know that right?"

"I guess." It was as honest as Eli could be about it. She wasn't one to dwell on things needlessly, but it always nagged at her that Alex was so much less open than Patrice. She knew it was just her mother's nature, as it was Theo's. But as soon as Patrice half suggested it, she wondered if this hadn't come up because she was dating Dani.

"Eli..." Patrice could tell her daughter wasn't convinced. She pulled the girl into a quick hug, "It's just one of those things Alex hasn't entirely worked out herself." She had told Eli as much as she herself had put together about Alex's past, omitting some of the details of course, but there were just some things she'd given up trying to learn. She could see Eli relax slightly, and went back to putting the clothes in the washer, smiling a little, "They look alike don't they?" Patrice chuckled, "but don't let the small world we live in scare you out of a good thing."

"They...yeah..." Eli blushed lightly and half flinched when the dryer's buzzer went off. She turned and began taking clothes out, hugging them to her and breathing in the fresh scent. "Are you sure it doesn't bother her? I know she's not going to talk to me about it, and I won't bring it up..."

"You and Dani, no." Patrice could say that much confidently. "She's just going through some things still." Alex was amazingly good at hiding things, but Eli had slowly been able to tell. "But..." Patrice turned on the washer, "Alex and I aren't looking to re-live the past, and I don't think Abbie and Taylor are either." She put an arm around Eli's shoulders and pulled her out of the laundry room, "the folding can wait, feel like getting some lunch?"

"Yeah..." Eli smiled and put her arm around Patrice's waist. She was okay with letting it go, and she felt better for giving Patrice the drive. If it had to do with the time Alex was in witness protection, Eli knew it was better that she not pry. "But you're buying..." She smirked and grabbed her bag, letting herself look forward to spending a little extra time with Patrice.

Chapter Text

"Really, it isn't a big deal. It's just a run. We go every day." Dani tried to look as reassuring as possible, though Eli didn't look at all convinced.

"Of course it's a big deal. Normal people don't just go running with a senator. She's like, notorious for not letting people come running with her. I was doing an internship in DC the summer that she decided to run an impromptu marathon just to stick it to a lobbyist that was trying to talk to her." Eli only really remembered that because the non-profit group she was working for had had a meeting scheduled with the senator that day and it had to be pushed back by hours. It had annoyed her at the time, since she was the one that had to do the rescheduling, even if she had thought that it was an amusing trick.

"That's an exaggeration." Dani rolled her eyes and poked her fingers between Eli's ribs. She had to admit that telling their parents had had some advantages, namely that her girlfriend could spend the day curled up in her bed with her if she wanted. That hadn't really been possible the summer before. "It wasn't anywhere close to a marathon. The reporter inflated the distance because he thought it sounded more macho. And he printed a correction the next day." Nevertheless, Dani was glad that she had overslept that morning and the Senator hadn't bothered to wake her up.

"And there's no way she's going to want to run that far tomorrow morning. Don't worry about it." Dani kissed Eli cheek and snuggled closer. "And if she does, I'm sure I can find a way to make it up to you."

*****

Taylor tapped on Dani's door, and opened it a crack, smiling slightly at the way she and Eli were tangled together under the blankets. She had heard the alarm going off through the door, so she knew they were awake. "If you're coming, it's time to get up. I'm out the door in 10 minutes."

Eli groaned and snuggled closer to Dani before she realized that it was Dani's mother waking them up. "Shit," she muttered as she rolled back over, halfway falling out of bed, pulling the covers with her.

Taylor chuckled and shook her head as she closed the door behind her. Either they'd be there, or they wouldn't, though she was hoping that she wasn't going to have to go running alone.

Dani rubbed her eyes, blinking at Eli and her uncharacteristic clumsiness. "You okay?" Her voice was still thick with sleep, but as Eli now had all of the blankets, it was significantly easier for her to get out of bed than normal. She pushed the blinds aside to look outside. "I think it snowed last night," she said as she started to pull on a pair of running tights.

"Do we have to go?" Eli was all for running, but she preferred to do it by herself. It was her time, one of the few times where she felt like she needed to be 'on' for anyone. And adding to this was running the Dani and her mother. She knew she was going to feel like a third wheel. Still. Eli was getting up and pulling on clothes, not even wanting to look out of the window to see how much it snowed.

"She won't care if you want to get back in bed." Dani drug a brush through her hair, then pulled it into a ponytail, before covering it all with a thick headband and a hat. She hated it when her ears got cold. Taylor didn't have a lot of time that she could devote to any one person, so Dani always valued their runs. It was the one time she could almost always be assured to have her mother to herself.

"No...no..." Eli tied the laces of her shoes before pulling on gloves. "I'm up now...let's just get this over with."

Dani smiled and pecked Eli on the lips. "I was hoping you'd say that." She grabbed Eli's hand and pulled her from the room, just as Taylor was checking her watch.

"Good morning. Shall we?" Taylor opened the door and ushered the girls out of the apartment and toward the stairwell.

Once they hit the outside, Eli tried not to visibly shiver too much. She preferred a treadmill on days like this, and she really hoped the Senator wasn't going to keep them out all morning. She gave Dani a look before they started off.

"Running in the cold is good for you. Toughens you up." Dani smirked as she slapped Eli on the shoulder, in an almost perfect imitation of the Senator.

"Yeah...I'm pretty sure I'm just about as tough as I need to be." The similarities between mother and daughter's mannerisms were almost freaky. She wasn't awake enough for this.

"You know, if the two of you aren't getting enough of a workout, I can always run faster." Taylor was in remarkably good shape for a woman in her 60s. In truth, the girls' banter was amusing her and she kept her pace steady.

"I'm...we're good, Senator," Eli said quickly. "Really..."

Dani glanced over at Eli as they turned into the park. Her cheeks were bright and there was a sheen of sweat developing on her forehead. It was incredibly appealing and Dani leaned in a pecked Eli on her cheek. "See, I told you it was just running and you didn't--" She didn't get to finish before Taylor cut her off. "So, Eli, have you gotten any responses from law schools yet?"

"I'm thinking I'll hear something next month, ma'am," Eli replied. She was proud of herself for not groaning. Every time she talked to Alex she got this question.

"What's your top choice?" Taylor ignored the look that Dani was shooting her. Dani seemed like she had become quite attached to Eli, and if her daughter's girlfriend was going to go to law school in Figi, she wanted to be prepared for the fall out.

"Berkeley, to be honest," Eli said before drawing in a deep, biting breath of cold air. "But Alex is pushing for Columbia, of course." She hoped the Senator didn't notice her rolling her eyes.

"Well, good luck." Taylor nodded, signaling to Eli that she would stop interrogating her. But her focus on Eli meant that she was completely taken by surprise when something cold and wet hit her between the shoulder blades. "Dani, I swear to God..." She stopped running and turned to look at her daughter, who was holding her hands over her mouth, trying not to laugh.

Eli stopped, momentarily disoriented by what was going on, but she regained her composure quickly enough that she ducked when she saw another snowball flying at her. She quickly scooped and formed a ball and tossed it at Dani, hitting her squarely in the chest.

Dani squeaked when the snowball hit her and bent to grab another, determined to get Eli back. While Eli was focused on Dani, Taylor scooped up two snowballs of her own, rapidly throwing one at Eli and the other at Dani. The one aimed at Dani only clipped her shoulder, but the one she had thrown at Eli landed in the middle of her stomach. Then, in a very un-senatorial move, Taylor scrambled behind a tree.

Eli shrieked and before she knew it, she was making another ball and jogging after Taylor, rounding the three to toss the ball, hitting the senator on the shoulder. Once she realized what she'd done, her eyes went wide. "Oh...shit...Senator, I'm sorry..."

"Eli..." Taylor smiled evilly, "I was in the navy a long time before I was a senator, and I was a kid in Virginia a long time before that..." She quickly threw another two snowballs at Eli, before she turned Dani, who was trying to sneak up behind her and flung loose snow at her, trying to distract her from the tackle she was in the middle of executing. It didn't work, and Taylor wound up on her back in the snow.

Eli found herself laughing lightly at the spectacle. She hugged herself and rubbed her arms, finally comfortable enough to say, "Can we go home now...?"

Dani stopped wrestling with her mother long enough to look up at Eli. "I think it's time..." She stood up and helped Taylor to her feet.

"Yeah, Abbie will kill me if you end up with a cold over Christmas," Taylor said as she stood and wrapped an arm around Dani's shoulders "We'll go home the short way."

By the time they got back, Eli was shivering, but she was glad she went, even if the trip back had meant more questions than she cared to field from the Senator.

Taylor knocked on the door, hoping that Abbie was already out of bed and making coffee. Generally, not taking a key wasn't much of an inconvenience, but then most mornings, she wasn't cold and wet.

Abbie put down the file she was looking over when she heard the women at the door. She smiled and went to answer. However, when she pulled open the door and saw the three of them now soaked with wet snow, and still more than a little un-melted, she stood in the doorway and tried to keep her expression serious. She raised an eyebrow, shaking her head slightly, and just closed the door on them. The brunette started laughing then, and went to get a stack of towels.

"Abbie!" Taylor shouted at the closed door and tried to open it, though it didn't budge. "This isn't funny..." She beat her fist against the door and tried the knob again.

Eli looked to Dani incredulously. Abbie had been absolutely serious, she could tell from the Senator's response. "Uhm...she's going to let us in right?"

"Uh...yeah, probably. She just doesn't like it when the floors get wet." Dani tried to smile reassuringly, ignoring the way that Taylor was crossing her arms and glaring at the door. It was better to just let her parents work those things out themselves.

Moments later, Abbie was back, and stepped back as Taylor nearly fell through the door when she opened it without notice. She dropped a towel on the floor, and handed one more to each of the other women. Despite doing her best to look disapproving, Abbie was laughing at the antics, "Where I come from, Taylor, we don't track in half the arctic with us." She looked her partner over, noting what remained of the obvious activity and kissed her cheek, still trying not to get wet. "Did you win at least?" From her best guess it had been a draw, but Taylor seemed particularly sodden.

"Where you come from, Hell would have to freeze over before it snowed." Taylor used a towel to ring the water from her hair. "And if you think that I'm going to strip in the hallway, you've got another thing coming." She pulled her jacket off and shook it out before she stepped inside, her cold hands nimbly making their way under Abbie's shirt and against her back.

"Taylor!" Abbie let out an uncharacteristic squeal at the cold hands on her skin, and she slapped Taylor on the shoulder, trying to push her away only halfheartedly, "Taylor Hamilton, so help me God..." Abbie grabbed the towel, throwing it half over the blond, trying to dry off as much of the melted snow as she could before the woman could push them down the hallway.

Dani laughed as Taylor tried to pull Abbie into their bedroom, only to be rebuffed and have the bedroom door pulled shut behind her. She shook her head and turned to Eli. "I'm sorry about that..." Dani leaned in and kissed Eli lightly, making sure that her mom wasn't close enough to overhear them. "Do you want to come take a shower with me?"

Eli smirked before she pulled away, taking a long look at Dani. A shower with her sounded amazing, but with Taylor taking one at the same time, she wasn't sure how the hot water would hold up. Plus, she wanted a little room to breathe after all of the excitement. "Go ahead, mmkay? I just need to chill for a few." She hoped Dani would understand. And after another kiss, the brunette was headed up the stairs. Eli turned around, realizing that Abbie was still there; she smiled slightly nervously. Whenever she was alone with the woman, even after months, her mind went back to those pictures. "Do you...mind if I get some cereal or something?"

Abbie smiled, and ran a hand through her ponytail, smoothing it again. "Of course, hun, lets see what we have." She led Eli into the kitchen and started opening cabinets, "So did y'all do any actual running out there?" When Dani was gone, Taylor could get her to go with her some mornings, but it was a hard sell in the winter.

"More than enough, I think." Eli followed Abbie into the kitchen and just sat. She knew there was no use in trying to fix her own cereal if the brunette was there. There were moments when Abbie seemed like such a typical mother. Then Eli took another good look at her and realized that she was still an Amazon supermodel, even at her age. "The Senator made us run back even though we were all wet."

Abbie quickly poured a bowl of cereal and soon had the milk sitting next to it in front of the young woman, "Sounds about right, she'll be having you doing jumping jacks next...I swear she still thinks she'll make a recruit out of Dani some day," She chuckled, "not a chance in hell though while I'm around. Orange juice? Hot chocolate?"

"Hot chocolate," Eli said, smiling as she poured a little of the milk in her cereal and mixed it up. She should have taken the juice or some coffee, but sometimes indulgences were good. "Dani likes it...in a way, I guess. It shows that she's paying attention." She blushed lightly as she looked up at Abbie. "Not that that's any of my business." And as always when it came to being alone with Abbie, she debating whether she should ask other questions, questions about Alex.

Abbie smiled and sat at the table as well, pulling her coffee cup back in front of her, "I know she does. And I think where Dani is concerned, quite a lot is your business." She took a sip of the coffee, regarding the younger woman, "And that's not a bad thing for either of you, I don't think." She crossed her legs, laughing quietly at Eli's thoughtful expression. It was clear that the young woman was trying to think of the correct response, and Abbie couldn't help herself, "You must hear this all the time, but you look just like your mother sometimes."

She did. In fact, Eli heard it a lot more comparing her to Patrice because their mannerisms were so similar. But that was from people who didn't know her mother. She had been told she was the spitting image of Alex on more than one occasion, but she had never been told that by someone so significant. "Were..." She paused, her spoonful of cereal in the air. "Were you in love with her?"

It took Abbie a moment while she realized what the girl had asked, then a wistful smile started to spread over her features, nostalgic, and still a little sad. Earlier in life she would have brushed the question off, but she could say it now, and Eli deserved the truth for the risk of asking, "Yes." Abbie wrapped her fingers a bit tighter around the mug, "More than I knew until she was gone. You don't need me to tell you Alex is an amazing woman. Is, and was twenty years ago." She could tell Eli wasn't expecting such a blatant answer, but Abbie didn't believe in being indirect. "But life has a way of working out, doesn't it?" She could hear the water turning off in their bathroom, and got up to pour Taylor's coffee, then looked back to Eli, "What makes you ask?" She spoke more softly, letting Eli know the question wasn't unwelcome.

Eli cupped her hot chocolate and pushed her cereal bowl aside. She didn't think Abbie would mind her admitting to looking at the pictures, but she didn't know how her mother would react to Abbie asking about them, if she chose to do that. "I found a drive with some pictures on it, and..." She shrugged. "Alex doesn't talk a lot about that time...even to Patrice." And while Eli could respect that there was still pain there, she couldn't quell her curiosity. She wondered if it completely changed her mother, if Alex had been a totally different woman before. She wondered what about herself was part of Alex's genes and what was a result of nurture, of the indirect influence of what had happened to Alex. "I mean, it's hard to imagine your parents with anyone else, right? But this is different. It was almost like looking at a different person...almost."

Abbie smiled a little mischievously at first, trying to think what might possibly have survived from that time in their lives, "Oh, well I hope there wasn't anything too...inappropriate." She laughed a little, "But honestly I'm not surprised she's tried to bury some of her past. As hard as it was to loose her, it can't have been any easier to live a lie like that." She put a hand on Eli's arm, "And Alex has always been complex, was ever since she walked into SVU and thought she could just run the place one-handed." She nodded toward her bedroom, "Taylor and she had it out a few times at the start."

"Really?" Eli grinned, picturing it. And if she wanted to go a step further in that, she just stopped herself, not wanting to know that much about her mother's past. "I have like...a million questions, but I..." She sighed. "I respect her privacy, so I just won't ask." And she didn't really think Abbie would answer anyway. "I gave the drive to Patrice... I don't know if it would be weird to have pictures of your old girlfriend, but I'm sure mom has it now..." She shrugged. The smallness of the world never ceased to surprise her.

Abbie laughed then at Eli's slight backpedaling, "Oh, hun, one of these days you and I can go and have a beer and talk about the past." Then she was more serious for a moment, "but really, if there's anything in particular you go ahead and ask. If I think Alex wants to keep the answer to herself, I'll just say."

"What happened?" Eli asked, her voice more desperate than she intended. She knew she couldn't really ask Patrice this. Patrice wasn't there; she didn't know her mother before, even if Alex had told her more than she would ever tell Eli and her brother. "I mean...I know she got shot and had to go into witness protection for a while, but...what happened that she's just so...haunted by it still. And...is she different? Is she really different now?" Eli realized she'd reached out and grabbed Abbie's hand tightly, and she blushed as she withdrew.

Abbie's expression changed, more serious, but also compassionate at the girl's reaction. "Eli, I don't know the full answer to that, but I can tell you what I do know." She could hear Taylor getting dressed, but continued, "Your mother was still pretty new to SVU when it happened, and she was cocky and stubborn like the rest of us. She had a case, a big one, and wouldn't let it go even when they started to threaten her." She checked herself, but decided it was her past as much as it was Alex's, "We were seeing each other at the time, and I think it was about a serious of a relationship as we'd either been in. I told her to get out of town, or to give up the case, but she wouldn't listen. We all thought ourselves invincible at that age."

Abbie sat back, preparing herself for the rest of the answer. She wasn't looking at Eli anymore, instead staring out the kitchen window, "She came over the night before it happened, federal agent in tow and all, and I pretty much kicked her out. I told her to go home where they were securing her building. The last things we said to each other were part of that fight, and then she was just gone by the next night."

Abbie glanced over her shoulder as she saw Taylor come into the room, and go to get her coffee. Her wife would know what they were talking about without being told. "She was gone, and I was calling Taylor to go to the service with me because I couldn't make it alone." She took a breath, "and then when she came back I didn't hear from her, and I assumed she'd just needed to move on." Abbie shook herself from her thoughts, letting her smile return, "So now you can imagine my shock at seeing her at dinner some twenty years later." She laughed, "life's amazing when you think about it." There was so much more to be said, but Abbie fell silent, it felt good to say, and maybe it was easier for her to tell Eli than for Alex to have to do it herself.

Taylor came up behind Abbie and quietly squeezed her shoulders. "It was a shock for all of us, I think." It was easy for Taylor to remember that time, to remember just how torn up Abbie had been about Alex's death and how long it had taken her to help Abbie over it.

"Thanks," Eli said as she looked down into her hot chocolate. it was a little bit more than she knew already. It was a little bit more intimate, and she somehow felt a little closer to it. "Thank you." She took a long sip and sighed softly. "Well...that definitely makes that dinner make a little sense," she said softly, half smiling. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be at all Eli, you girls made a reunion that was long overdue come about, and I think it was good for all of us in the end." Abbie looked up at Taylor, sure she would approve.

Taylor squeezed Abbie's shoulders again and took a seat. "Not waiting for me to make breakfast today?" She nodded toward the bowl of cereal.

The mood lightened, Abbie raised an eyebrow at Taylor, "You took too long. You can't go run the girl around the city, get covered in snow, and then expect her to wait while you take a leisurely shower." She waived at the kitchen behind her, "But don't let me stop you from it." Abbie laughed, "I'm sure Dani's expecting her usual."

Taylor sighed and shook her head as she got back up, starting to heat up a pan for bacon. "Something tells me Dani isn't the only one."

Chapter Text

Dani smirked as she finished typing out the message and hit send. The library was deserted and the section she was in was empty of even of those dedicated souls that visited the library in the middle of the semester. She leaned against a carrel and waited for Eli to show up.

"Shit," Eli muttered when her phone chimed with a text message. She had forgotten to turn the volume off; in fact, she had forgotten she brought it with her at all. Eli was tempted not to look at the message; she was half way through her research, and she wanted to get at least close to finished before she left. But she saw that it was from Dani, and she raised her eyebrows when she saw the request. "Be right there," she texted back as she started to gather her things before getting up to go find Dani.

She moved through the stacks, looking for Dani's dark hair, a flash of her legs, even her backpack, but she wasn't having much luck.

"Dani," Eli called quietly. She looked around several shelves before finding the brunette and smiling. She shifted her bag on her shoulder. "Hey..."

Dani's smile got wider. "Hey." She slid her arms around Eli's neck and leaned in for a quick kiss. "I'm glad that you were here to come help me." Of course, she had known that Eli was there before she texted her. She knew that Eli was expect her to let her go, but she pressed closer instead. "Really, really glad..."

"What..." Eli took a step back, settling herself to Dani's weight. "Dani...come on...I've got stuff to do..." She could smell the brunette's shampoo, and it would be so easy to just lean it and taste her lips.

"You've had lots and lots of stuff to do lately." Dani leaned in a kissed Eli's neck, aiming for the spot that seemed to make Eli's knees weak. "So I think it's time for you to take a break..."

"It's..." Eli took in a shuddering breath and tried to turn her face away even as she wrapped her arms around Dani. "I can't just... I have to get this stuff done. God...Dani..."

"I've been missing you." Dani scraped her nails against the back of Eli's neck, then dropped a hand to her crotch, pressing her palm against it, using her body to press Eli against the carrel. "And you know how very high maintenance I am."

"Shit..." Eli breathed, pressing her hips forward. She raked her fingers through Dani's hair, closing her eyes tightly as she tried to pull forth some rational thought. "We can go back to my room in just...twenty minutes...maybe thirty..."

"I'm going to hold you to that," Dani bit Eli's neck, "after I finish." She quickly unfastened Eli's pants and pushed her hand underneath them.

Eli almost moaned loudly before she had caught herself. it was hardly her first time in the library, but...in the stacks when she actually had work to do... When it came to a choice between work and sex, Eli was generally one to pick work, and she hadn't met anyone who could change that until she'd met Dani.

"The sooner you relax, the sooner you can get back to work, and the sooner you can get back to your room and thank me for this." Dani's fingers were slippery with wetness and they moved easily against Eli's clit.

"What makes you think," Eli began, her breath catching slightly, "that I'm going to thank you for interrupting my work." She pressed her palms down Dani's back and then underneath her shirt, feeling her skin.

"Because you needed the break," Dani briefly pushed a finger into Eli before she focused on her clit again. "And because if you don't, I'm going to be very upset with you." Dani kissed Eli, brushing her nose against Eli's cheek. "And if I'm upset with you, I might not be sneaking into your bed at night for a very long time."

Eli moaned softly and whimpered as she bit the inside of her cheek. She pressed her fingers to Dani's back, curling them, scraping her nails down Dani's skin, arching forward. "God..."

"God, you're sexy, is what I think the end of that sentence is. And you are sexy. So incredibly sexy." Dani kissed Eli hard as she pushed her fingers against her clit even harder. It was much harder for Eli to make noises if her mouth was otherwise engaged.

"Mmm..." Eli squirmed, balling Dani's shirt in her fists as she started to shudder through her orgasm. When she pulled away she was gasping, and she quickly looked around. "I'm so...mmm...I'm going to get you for that..."

"You're welcome to do whatever you like to me," Dani lightly kissed Eli's lips and pulled her hand out of Eli's pants, carefully refastening them. "When you're done here, of course."

"No...no, I think I'll go ahead and finish with you now," Eli quipped before kissing Dani hard and pushing her against one of the shelves.

Dani kissed her back for a moment before she pulled away, twisting out of Eli's arms. "Oh, no." she shook her head, "you'll ruin the rest of my surprise, and I'm not going to let you do that." The lingerie had cost far too much for Eli to get to feel it before she saw it.

"Shit, Dani..." Eli pulled away and ran her fingers through her hair. "Shit...fine...you win this time."

"I'll see you in 20 minutes." Dani pecked Eli's lips, skating away before Eli could try to grab her again. "Have a good time with your research." Dani waved as she slid between the stacks and headed toward the stairs.

When she could no longer hear Dani's footsteps, Eli slid to the floor and let out a long breath. It looked like she was going to be putting in some hours there Saturday morning because there was absolutely no way that she was getting anything else done. After a few minutes she looked at her watch and pushed herself up. She took the time to check out a few books before simply giving up and heading back to her room.

*****

Dani got back to Eli's room and quickly started pulling things from her backpack. Sure the house rules said they weren't allowed to have candles, but she highly doubted that anyone with any sort of authority was going to be knocking on Eli's door that night. If they did, Dani killing them was going to be much higher on their list of problems than the candles. She spread them around the room and lit them, enjoying the warmth that gave off. Once that was done, she turned off the rest of the lights and quickly stripped down to her bra and panties. Now, she just had to wait for Eli to get back.

When Eli opened her door, she stopped short of turning on the lights, and she quickly closed it behind her. "Oh..." The candles definitely registered, but when she saw Dani her jaw nearly dropped. "You look...mmm..." She went to the brunette and drew her into her arms.

"So that means you like it, right?" Dani couldn't stop herself from smirking just a little, using it to cover the insecurity that she was feeling. She had never bought, or worn, anything quiet as deliberately sexy as the lingerie she had on. And she hadn't filled a room full of candles before. She hoped that it wasn't too over the top.

"Well, I'm definitely reconsidering being mad at you for derailing my research," she said before kissing the brunette lightly. Eli took a step back so she could look at Dani, taking the sight of her in. "God..."

Dani smiled in relief. "So, are you going to come unwrap your present? Or are you just going to stare at me all night?"

"My present?" Eli raised her eyebrows and ran her fingertips just under the edge of Dani's panties. "What have I done to get a present?"

"It's been a year." Dani squirmed under Eli's fingers, pressing closer to her. She hadn't expected Eli to remember, but that didn't mean that Dani had forgotten.

Eli wasn't really listening, as she was intent on seeing Dani's pretty, pretty lingerie on the floor. But when the words registered she paused and stepped back. "Shit, Dani...I'm sorry, I..."

"Forgot. I know." Dani wrapped her arms around Eli's neck, pressing close to her again. "If I had wanted you to remember, I would have said something about it. I know how you think." Dani kissed her lightly. "And I wanted to surprise you."

"You are..." Eli said between kisses, pulling Dani close, "incredibly...incredibly understanding..." She kissed down Dani's neck and quickly unhooked her bra.

"Only because I love you." Dani nuzzled against Eli's neck, ducking her head down to press closer and hug Eli tightly.

"Love you too, babe," Eli said softly, kissing underneath Dani's arms. She pulled the bra off and tossed it aside, running her hands up Dani's sides to cup her breasts. "Mmm...now...let me make it up to you."

"Mmmm, happily." Dani sat down on the bed and pulled Eli on top of her as she laid back. "I know you've got a lot to finish before graduation, but I thought that you could stand to take a night off." She wrapped her legs around Eli's waist, loving the way Eli felt on top of her.

"Well, I don't think I can argue with you anymore," she whispered, nipping at Dani's ear. Eli slid off of the bed, kissing down Dani's stomach as she did. She pulled the brunette's panties off. "Pretty," she purred before parting the brunette's legs.

"Ohh," Dani sighed in pleasure as she let her legs fall further apart. "Please stop talking and do something now." Dani squirmed impatiently, her breath catching as she felt Dani exhale against her skin.

"Isn't that usually my line?" Eli teased as she breathed against Dani's skin, blowing lightly on her clit.

Dani whined and squirmed. "You should remember how understanding I'm being." She pushed her fingers through Eli's hair, trying to encourage her to continue. Dani had been wet since the moment she had gotten to the library and she thought that she had been waiting more than long enough. "Please, Eli..."

"Mmm..." Eli wasted no time in pressing her tongue to Dani's clit, pushing forward and running her palms up the brunette's thighs.

"Oh, God." Dani's hips jerked upward and her fingers twitched. Eli's tongue was hot and wet and sent shivers up her spine. "Eli... Oh, Eli..."

Just the sound made Eli moan, and she pressed her fingers into Dani, shuddering as she curled them towards herself. "Come on, babe," she murmured before starting to lick Dani again.

It wasn't going to take much for Dani to come, and as Eli pushed her fingers further into her, Dani's vision went blurry. "Fuuuucckk," Dani's climax flashed through her, her muscles contracting. She tried not to pull on Eli's hair, but she wasn't particularly successful.

Eli didn't give her much time to recover before she crawled on top of her and kissed her soundly. As she propped on her elbow, she smirked. "Let me do something about these candles before we set off a fire alarm...then I'll get back to thanking you properly, 'kay?"

"Mmhmm..." Dani tangled her fingers with Eli's, holding onto her for as long as she could before Eli had to set away to get to some of the candles. "You could thank me with your strap-on..." Dani slid under the covers, pleasantly warm and incredibly relaxed. She could see Eli smirking at her and she knew that she was definitely going to enjoy the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

Dani pushed further into the couch as she tried to concentrate on the book she was reading. She really did want to know what happened, but it just wasn't holding her attention. She felt restless, but there were only so many times she could walk though the meadows that surrounded Cammie's house before all of the wildflowers started to look the same or she broke her ankle in a prairie dog hole, or whatever it was they had there. Her mom and the Senator were in Cheyenne for the day and probably the nigh too, so neither of them were around to distract her either. She was bored.

"You know," Cammie said, smile on her face as she pushed off of the doorway where she'd been watching Dani for a few minutes, "there's a TV in the den if you're on the outs with the book." She sauntered forward to perch on the arm of the sofa. She had loved this place when she was Dani's age, but she didn't have anything more exciting to compare it to. Dani, however, had grown up with a life that Cami couldn't have imagined in those days. "But I've noticed that you've been avoiding the barn..."

Dani looked up and tried to force a smile. "Yeah, there really isn't anything on TV in the middle of the day. But, uh, thanks." And the barn... well, she wasn't even going to think about that. It was certain to be full of things that she could humiliate herself with if she even thought about doing them.

"Well, we could always go for a ride...you can only walk so far in the meadows." With the boys, Cammie had never had to deal with this sort of thing. Dani wasn't particularly causing trouble, but a petulant young woman was not pleasant to have around the house. And Abbie and Taylor seemed to think she would get over it.

"That's okay, Aunt Cammie, really." Dani tried to smile, she really did. "I'd probably just end up breaking my leg and really ruining the summer."

Cammie raised her eyebrows as she tried to suppress a chuckle. "You're not scared of them, are you, Dani?"

"More scared about the inevitable casts and concussions than the actual horses." Her smile was weaker now. She really hoped that Cammie hadn't gotten the idea of putting her on a horse stuck in her head. She wasn't as stubborn as Drew, but that wasn't saying much.

"I think you'd be fine..." Cammie squeezed Dani's bony shoulder. The brunette simply hadn't grown into herself yet, but it was certainly clear which mother she favored. "How about we stay off of the horses and check out the litter of kittens that just opened their eyes?"

"That could be okay." Dani shrugged and closed her book, letting Cammie know that she was really just humoring her, even if the kittens did sound cute.

"You know, I bet Abbie and Taylor would just love it if I sent one home with you," she said, pushing a lock of hair out of her eyes as she let Dani follow her out.

"They would kill me." Dani's eyes went wide at the idea, but something about the way Cammie moved her hair around made Dani's smile return. There was just something really nice about her hands.

"Hard to hide a kitten on a plane, though." Cammie held the door for Dani and took a deep breath as they stepped out into the fresh air. She took unhurried steps, leading Dani out to the barn, determined that this would be the first in several steps to get her out of the house and onto a horse.

"Yeah." Dani fell into step beside Cammie. "I think security might notice when I had to put my bag through the x-ray thing." As they walked into the barn, she thought that, over all, maybe it wasn't that bad. But she moved to Cammie's other side as they walked past the horses.

"You can't fall off of them if you're not on them," Cammie teased. She led Dani to an empty stall where mother and four kittens of various shades were curled in one of the corners. "Adorable, aren't they..."

"Just because I can't fall off of them doesn't mean that I can't fall in to them." But she was already distracted by the kittens, getting on her knees to get closer and letting their mother sniff at her hands before she tried to pet her.

Cammie shook her head, chuckling as she got to her knees as well. She picked up the runt of the litter and cuddled into her chest as she regarded the girl. "Your mom and the Senator went for a ride yesterday morning. They'd probably love it if you joined them before you go back home."

For a very brief second, Dani imagined that she was the one being held against Cammie's chest and she blushed. She picked up one of the kittens as a distraction. "Uh, yeah, I guess." Nothing had really changed her mind about how dangerous the horses could be.

While she didn't know why Dani was blushing, Cammie noted that the girl wore it well. She might have been the spitting image of Abbie, but there were times when she seemed so much like Taylor. "Well...horses aside," Cammie said as she carefully put the runt down and stood, dusting off her jeans, "the kittens aren't going anywhere for a while. So...enjoy." She smiled as she brushed a piece of Dani's hair away from her forehead as she looked down on her.

"Thanks." Dani's smile was finally genuine as she looked up at Cammie, though she was sure that her heart skipped a beat when Cammie touched her forehead. She made herself comfortable in the stall, leaning back against one of the wall, and focused on the kittens.

"Let me know when you get hungry...we'll figure out something for lunch." Cammie's smile was a little brighter to actually see a real smile from Dani, but she knew a teenager wouldn't really want to be entertained by her for long, so she left the brunette to her own devices.

******

The barn was empty, which was not what Cammie had expected to find. But the kittens were growing fast, and she knew Dani could have gone after one of them. "Dani...you around...?" she called.

Dani was startled from her fantasy by the voice coming up the ladder. "I'm up here," she called down, poking her head over the side to smile down at Cammie. She had been hoping that Cammie might show up eventually, though her thoughts hadn't really gotten past that to what might happen if she did.

Cammie started the climb up. "Mind if I join you, then?" She smiled as she situated herself beside Dani and the kitten sleeping in her lap.

"It's your barn, isn't it?" Dani said without maliciousness. The kitten was purring while it slept and she kept running her fingers through it's fur. "He came up here, and then he couldn't figure out how to get back down."

"Poor little guy," Cammie said. "Good thing you were around." She leaned back and simply watched Dani there, noting that she seemed more content, more genuine when she wasn't trying so hard to be bored. "It's gorgeous out today, Dani...are you sure I can't tempt you onto a horse?"

"I... I don't know." She looked dubiously toward the ground below them, as if she would be just as high on the back of a horse and far more likely to fall off. But it meant that she might get to spend some more time with Cammie and she liked that idea far more than she should.

"We'll take it slow...I promise..." Cammie reached across the distance between them and stroked the kitten's belly with her fingertips. "Come on..."

"You're not going to stop until I have a broken arm, are you?" Dani sighed, but she was really only pretending to be annoyed. She pulled the kitten up into her arms as she stood.

"Right." Dani chuckled, not believing Cammie about that at all. She looked at the horses and sighed in resignation. "You're lucky that I'm not as stubborn as my mothers." She was sure that Cammie didn't want to spend all summer cajoling her onto a horse.

There was nothing about that Cammie could argue with. But she was sure that Dani would grow into that as well. Once she finally got her out of the barn and onto a mount, though, the brunette seemed to forget her misgivings. By the time they were back, she was smiling and almost entirely unselfconscious. "See...nothing broken...not even a scratch..."

"Yeah." Dani smiled, actually rather proud of herself. "Of course, I haven't had to get down yet." The horse was more solid than she had thought that he would be, but only made her feel a little better, now that she was thinking about it again. Following Cammie around hadn't required any initiative. This did.

"Just swing your leg over. The ground isn't that far away, and I'm right here..." Cammie smiled as she held the animal while Dani tentatively slid down, clinging to the saddle to the point where it seemed like she wanted to take it with her. "No broken legs...meaning we can go on a longer ride tomorrow."

"Joy." Dani rolled her eyes, but she knew she would be there. After all, it meant that she got to spend time with Cammie. "I'll have another chance to break something tomorrow."

"Good job staying positive," Cammie said as she laughed. She squeezed Dani's arm before patting her on the back. "Seriously, you did good. Now how about heading inside and pouring us some lemonade while I take care of these guys..."

"Okay." Her back tingled where Cammie had touched her and it added a little bounce to her step as she headed toward the house.

Chapter Text

It was Sunday and Sunday meant that it was time to call home. There would have to be two calls that day, because Mom was in New York and the Senator was in DC, but that was okay. Dani didn't mind. It was a part of her routine. She picked up the phone and dialed home, waiting for her mom to pick up.

Abbie would have been lying if she'd said she hadn't been listening for the phone. Even though Dani had been away for a few years now, she still couldn't help miss her. She glanced at the caller-id as she picked up, "Hi, darlin'! How are you?"

"I'm good. How're you? I had a little cold, but I'm feeling a lot better now." Dani curled up on her bed, settling in to talk for a while. These were never short conversations.

"Oh I'm doin' fine. I think your mother's working herself to death, but there's nothing new about that." Abbie listened to Dani's tone, knowing her all too well. "You sound a little sad, hun, is there more than just the cold going on? Finals getting close?"

Dani sighed. Somehow her mom always knew when something was up, even when she didn't say anything. "I just..." She shifted around a little. "Eli started getting letters from law schools."

Abbie set down the folder she was going through, "Oh, that soon already?" She hated to think of her daughter being heartbroken, though they'd all had their fair share in life. "Where has she been applying?"

Dani sighed. "All sorts of places, but she really wants to go to USC."

"It's a good school." It was Abbie's first reaction, but she wanted to be there to give Dani a hug more than anything.

"Yeah. Patrice went there. It's just so far away." Dani's voice got quieter. "I mean, I'm going to be happy for her if she gets in, but is it terrible that I'm kinda hoping that she doesn't?"

"Well, seeing as how you're not on the admissions board, I don't think there's any problem with that." Abbie tried to keep her voice light, "It just means you care about her a lot, and that's not bad." That much had been apparent for a long time. "I just...wouldn't tell her," Abbie added.

"No! I wouldn't ever tell her." Dani sighed. "I'm just... I'm gonna miss her and I love her and I just don't know what to do."

"Dani.." Abbie's next thought was to buy her daughter a train ticket to come home for the weekend so she could cheer her up, but knew that wasn't really the fix. "I don't think there's much you can do babe. These are the things in life we all have to figure out. I know its hard, but I think you two are strong enough to make it work if you want to."

"Yeah. Okay." Dani only felt a little bit better, but there wasn't really any point in going over it again and again and again. "Thanks." She tried to muster up a smile and change the topic. "So, what's mom working on this week? Let me know which random statistics I need to be ready for when I talk to her."

Abbie smiled, glad to hear Dani sounding a bit brighter, "I seem to remember something about school funding and stormwater restrictions. I'm fairly sure they're two different things, unless they've finally completely lost their minds down there."

Dani couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah. I think so to. I'll do a little research before I call her." Dani liked being able to find the one thing Taylor hadn't heard about yet. "Thanks."

"Anytime, hun, love you so much." Abbie was smiling sadly as she hung up the phone. It hurt to not be able to fix things for Dani, but that was just part of letting her grow up. "Now…how's studyin' for finals goin'…"

Chapter Text

Dani curled one leg underneath her as she settled into the sofa. She sipped the last of the shake they'd stopped for on the way home from the airport and sighed contentedly. Ice cream shakes before dinner--Abbie definitely felt bad that Taylor had gotten called away before she could come with her to the airport. And in truth, Dani was a little bummed. But she knew she would see the Senator soon, and she couldn't really contain herself any longer on all of the things that had happened in Wyoming since Abbie and Taylor had gotten called away. They had been surprised but pleased she decided to stay with Cammie. Cammie...when Dani thought about her she couldn't help a little smile. "So...guess what I did..."

Abbie crossed the room and sat next to Dani, giving her another quick hug, and ignoring the suitcases that had been dropped blocking the stairway for now. It was good to have her daughter back, even though it had only been a few weeks. "What's that Dani?"

"I learned how to ride! Like, actually ride. Not just sit there in terror while Cammie led me around in circles, like she was doing before you left." Dani was practically bouncing with excitement at just the memory. "It was awesome." And getting to spend so much time with Cammie had been awesome too. "Can I go back next summer? Please?"

Abbie chuckled quietly at the change in her daughter's attitude since she'd left her just a few weeks earlier. "That's great sugar, I wish I could have seen." She smiled at the light in the girl's eyes, "and as for next summer, we'll have to talk to Cammie, but she said she had a great time with you too."

"Really?" Dani's eyes lit up even more. "It was just really cool. Cammie's really good with the horses and she's a great teacher. She's really patient and calm even when I was totally freaking out. Seriously. She didn't make fun of me once. Did you get to try her lemonade before you left?" Maybe the next summer Cammie would even let her try a beer.

Abbie did her best not to let her smile break into an outright laugh. Dani was nearly bouncing beside her, and clearly not just at her triumph at overcoming her fear of horses. "You know hon, I didn't. But next time, I'll make sure to ask." She nodded at the now empty shake in Dani's hands, "And I want to hear about every last thing, but since I doubt you'll be wanting dinner too soon, I'm sure you'll be excited to get your unpacking over with." She prepared for one of Dani's patented eye-rolls, and stood up, "just throw the dirty clothes down the stairs, I'm putting some in already."

Dani rolled her eyes, but she was still smiling when she got up. "Okay." She rounded the coffee table and impulsively grabbed her mom for another hug. "It's really good to be home."

Wrapping the girl in her arms, Abbie kissed her hair. Dani was growing ridiculously fast these days, and it always shocked Abbie at how little height difference remained between them already. "It's really good to have you back."

Chapter Text

Eli had waited, the letter burning a hold in her bag, but when she got her keys out, she couldn't stand it any longer. She nearly walked into the door opening it, and as she read, she fumbled with putting her key in the lock. She didn't realize that when she turned the knob, Dani was on the other side, trying to open it for her, and Eli nearly walked into her. "Oh! Hey...I forgot I left you here..." She couldn't keep back her grin. All the other letters had come in. This was the last; this was the one she had been waiting for.

"You were gone, like, 15 minutes... Am I really that easy to forget?" Dani could only shake her head at Eli in amused exasperation. "I'm guessing you got some interesting mail?" Dani stepped back and flopped onto the bed.

Eli held up the letter, her grin growing wider. "USC...at the eleventh hour...but..." She bit her lip as she grabbed Dani's hand and squeezed it. This was not a moment for reserve. "I'm in!"

"Took them long enough." Dani couldn't help but smile back at Eli. Her excitement was infectious and she pulled Eli down on top of her. "That's great." She knew how much Eli wanted to go there even if California suddenly seemed very far away.

"I know, isn't it?" Eli kissed her quickly and moved to sit back up, staring at the words one more time. "Patrice is going to be beyond excited..."

Dani twined her fingers with Eli's, just trying to hold on to her. "Yeah. And Alex is gonna do that thing where she purses her lips and shakes her head to cover how much she wants to smile." After a spring break spent mostly in Alex and Patrice's apartment in New York, their expressions had become familiar.

"Probably...or she's going to go through the merits of Columbia one last time...Actually, she'll probably do both if Patrice will let her." Eli grinned and kissed Dani again. "I should sign this and get it back in the mail...maybe I should overnight it..." She was already getting up to find a pen.

"Eli, seriously, you don't have to rush. It won't go out until tomorrow anyway." But Dani didn't try to stop her. There wasn't really any point. Eli would do what she wanted to do and Dani didn't want to spoil her mood. "We should go celebrate or something. And you should call Alex and Patrice."

"Yeah...I will, totally," Eli mumbled as she read over the agreement before signing her name with a flourish. She grinned down at the paper before folding it carefully and putting it into the provided envelope. She took a deep breath before sealing it. School was almost finished, and now she knew exactly where she was headed. "I can't wait to start looking at places in California..." she said, voice almost distant as she thought of all the possibilities opening up.

"Yeah, that's gonna be awesome." Dani's smile was a little less bright this time. California and Massachusetts weren't exactly within easy traveling distance and Dani didn't have any illusions about just how much of Eli's time law school was going to take. It wasn't like she wasn't going to be busy too. She was taking 20 hours the next semester and it didn't look like the spring was going to be any easier.

"What's wrong?' Eli frowned suddenly, seeing through Dani's thin smile. That anything could possibly be wrong in that moment had not occurred to her in the least.

"Nothing. I'm really happy for you." Dani widened her smile, trying to make it more convincing. "LA's gonna be great."

"It is...I mean..." Eli couldn't hold back her smile as she thought of the possibilities. "Yeah. But you're...not too happy are you?"

Dani shrugged. "LA is just really far away." And she didn't know if she could handle Eli living on the other side of the country. She had spent a lot of her childhood with one of her mother's always being in the wrong city. She didn't want that for her own life.

"I know, but..." Eli shrugged. She was already pulling out her phone, dialing home and hoping Patrice would be the first to pick up. She kissed Dani's forehead quickly. "One sec, okay? I just...I have to tell Patrice and Alex..." She put the phone to her ear, tapping her foot as it began to ring.

"Yeah." Dani leaned back and waited.

"Hello?" Patrice had barely made it to the phone, and was slightly out of breath from searching for the thing under the clothes she was organizing before Alex got home.

"Hey!" Eli said brightly, heart leaping that Patrice had answered. She took a breath and tried to slow her thoughts. "Are you busy...I just need a second..."

"Oh Eli, of course not, what's up?" With the ongoing saga of Eli's lawschool applications, Patrice found herself focusing immediately. It was definitely a topic that had been dominating both of Alex and her's lives for the last month.

It was Eli's instinct to draw it out a little bit, just because it was so easy to play Patrice like that. And Patrice let her, getting her back from time to time. But she couldn't help it. She had turned away from Dani and she was grinning ear to ear, still holding the letter in her hand. "I got the letter from USC..."

Patrice paused, a shirt still in her hand. She'd be outright lying if she wasn't at least a bit invested in her daughter applying to her alma mater. "And..?"

"I really hope you're ready to start apartment hunting in LA," Eli finished breathlessly. She didn't have to be there to know Patrice was grinning just as widely as she was, and she would have given anything to be able to hug her tightly. "I'm in..."

"Eli!" Patrice tossed the now-unimportant piece of clothing back on the bed, smiling excitedly. "That's amazing! I'm so so proud of you!" She knew Alex would be too, though more quietly, and with a few comments about Columbia to go with it. "Do you want me to try and keep it from Alex until you can tell her?"

"I was actually hoping you'd soften her up for me..." Eli replied, laughing lightly. She began to pace, listening quietly as Patrice talked excitedly, confirming plans for graduation. And finally, she stopped in front of Dani as she smiled. "Yeah, okay...see you then. And thanks. Love you too..." She hung up and grinned down at Dani before pulling the brunette up and into her arms. "I'm going to law school!" Not that she wasn't before, but now it was real.

"Yeah." Dani laughed a little at just how excited Eli was. "I'm really happy for you. Really."

"We have the whole summer," Eli said, smile fading just a little. She looked down at Dani and touched her cheek, realizing for the first time just how much the distance would be, realizing that she didn't know if she was the type to commit to that.

"Yeah." Dani could sense the change in Eli's attitude. She bit her lower lip, trying not to give into it, but she wasn't entirely successful. Summers were short. This one was probably going to be even shorter. "Is there any way we could talk about this in August or something?"

"If that's what you want, Dani...but...it's not going to make it go away." Eli rubbed Dani's arms lightly.

Dani sighed. "I know. I just... We're gonna break up and I just... I'd rather be able to enjoy the summer with you before that happens." She wrapped her fingers in Eli's shirt, tugging on it.

"Okay," Eli said quietly as she pulled Dani closer. The gravity of the statement was sinking in, but she wasn't going to let it ruin her mood. Eli decided then and there that they would simply handle it like adults. "Bur right now...can I just...I just want to celebrate..."

"Then we should celebrate." Dani forced a smile onto her face again and kissed Eli, trying to recapture her good mood. "What do you want to do? Dinner? Champagne? Something else?" There was a lump in her throat, but she ignored it.

"We'll go get dinner and come back here and spend the night together…it'll be great." Eli ran her fingers through Dani's hair, knowing that her words were suddenly hollow. She had everything she wanted, and part of it was already slipping away. And she knew she had to just accept that, to keep moving forward.