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At the End of the Day

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Ursula does not stagger out of headquarters nor down the streets nor up the stairs nor down the hall to her door. Her hand is steady as she fits her key into the lock, lets herself in. Dawn, lounging on the couch with a book, looks up as Ursula closes the door quietly behind her; she's on her feet even before Ursula begins to sway, and is there in time to take on the weight that Ursula can no longer support.

"Tough day at the office, honey?" she asks, not unkindly, as she manages to get Ursula over to the couch on pure willpower.

Slumped over her lover more than wrapped around her, Ursula buries her face in Dawn's neck and mutters in Austrian, the unfamiliar syllables tickling along Dawn's skin as they collapse together in a heap. She doesn't know the language, but she doesn't need to in order to understand the sentiment behind them. A spark of protectiveness alights within her as she lightly runs her fingers through Ursula's mussed hair.

"Shh, precious," she whispers, holding her lover closer. "You're home, I've got you. Whatever upset you can't get you now."

A short bark of laughter and Ursula curls closer still. One deep breath, however, and she's pulled back enough to say, "The world's problems don't stop at the door, Dawn. They walk right in after you whether you acknowledge them or not."

"Just as long as they wipe their feet."

The laughter this time is longer, softer, almost true. Dawn revels in the accomplishment as Ursula finds herself again, sitting up and pulling Dawn close against her chest, tilting Dawn's face to meet her own. The kiss is weary yet warm; feather-light, but not exactly chaste. Dawn breaks away gently, her concern for Ursula's state easily overriding the heat coiling in her belly. Though still sluggish by her standards, Ursula doesn't wait for an argument before dipping her head to kiss along Dawn's jaw.

"Ursula," she sighs, neither rejecting the advance nor encouraging it. "Ursula, you're injured—"

"Not injured, pet, just tired. So tired." Her tone of voice makes Dawn shiver unpleasantly. Ursula backs off so that they can look each other in the eye; it's all Dawn can do not to barricade the door and the windows and hide Ursula away in their bed with the covers pulled up. "Please, Dawn," she says, her voice soft and cracked. "Please."

The very thought of denying her hurts Dawn physically to contemplate. Rather than dwell on it, she takes Ursula's hands in her own and leads her lover slowly, so slowly, to their bedroom.