Holly was right. Gail was freaking out a little bit. Why did everything seem to happen at once? Her friends were in the hospital, and there was no word if Swarek was going to make it, or if Chloe was out of the woods yet. She was never the one people went to for solace of any kind anyway, and as if that weren’t awkward enough, she was now out to Steve and Chris. It was pretty clear that a few people already knew. She figured if even Chris was smart enough to tell her to call Holly before they went out on that call, she was an open book.
Exposure on top of pain on top of waiting. She felt like her head was going to explode.
Holly and Gail stayed at the hospital for a few more hours that night, but it was clear nothing was going to happen anytime soon. Andy was with Swarek, Celery was with Oliver, Dov with Chloe. Steve and Nash were there in the corner, whispering in concerned but tired voices. People were caring for each other, all of them, and in that spirit everyone was kind to Gail and Holly. Of course, everyone loved Holly. She was just loveable that way.
“This is like Noelle’s wedding, everyone’s caring but they’re crying instead of laughing. I don’t know which is worse.”
Holly saw the tired, utterly exhausted look in Gail’s eyes and suggested they go home and come back in the morning. Ever since Gail’s kiss earlier that day, Holly’s heart jumped every time she saw her. Out of fear for her, out of the tension that finally seemed to be resolving between them, out of excitement for what might come next. But her job now was to keep all that in check and be there for her.
“Maybe I should take you home. Look, you can barely think straight.” She ran her hand up and down Gail’s arm.
Gail rolled her eyes and glared with as much energy as she was capable. Why did she come out so soon? They hadn’t even slept together yet. What if it was terrible? The kiss caught her by surprise. She thought she knew herself better than that. It was beyond impulsive. Holly was rambling, telling her that she cared about her in a way that she knew wouldn’t make her run. Gail felt something swell inside her—was it affection?—and saw that Holly was talking so fast she was losing her breath, chest swelling. Why did she wear such a revealing shirt? Gail had noticed her breasts before, but always forced herself to look away, and to stop thinking about it a half a second later. Now she couldn’t help herself. She noticed the soft roundness that her cleavage showed, and forced herself to look up again. Not at those eyes, too much concern there. Down again… to those full lips, mouthing those words of such deep care and affection. And then she could not stop herself. It wasn’t that she wanted Holly to stop talking. She just wanted Holly.
So the kiss caught them both by surprise. But it was Gail’s reaction to it that stunned her. It was like nothing else she’d experienced, not even that quick, soft kiss that Holly gave her in the cloakroom that left her breathless and confused. Her mind turned off. All she could feel was Holly’s willing lips, her own wanting, Holly wanting more, both of them leaning into it. When they finally pulled away, Gail was dazed, but Holly, no, she was present. Always present. Gail leaned in to kiss her again, this time deliberately. This time, lips opened, tongues danced sweetly together, and arms wrapped around bodies wanting to be closer.
When they finally stopped, Gail whispered, “I have to go. I’ll talk to you later.” Then she was gone. But in those few minutes, Gail knew. She wanted her.
Holly wasn’t all that surprised when Gail acted coolly in front of her later that afternoon. She felt a little let down, but she knew this was a big deal for Gail, and on a day that was fraught with danger. Gail was a cop, after all. Today was the first real indication that Gail had even thought about the two of them together. It’s not that Holly hadn’t thought about it. She knew she’d broken down some of Gail’s barriers that first day they were stuck in the lab together. She didn’t miss Gail’s reaction at the end of the day when she pulled the pins out of her hair and shook that dark mane loose. She watched Gail’s jaw drop every so slightly and confusion flicker from her eyes for the briefest second. Holly just had to be patient.
Holly figured there was going to be a process, and she made the decision right then to be there when she could and wait it out. She was impressed that Gail kissed her when she did, and told herself to slow down, Gail was going through a lot. It wasn’t an easy process for most people, and Gail wasn’t the kind of person who made anything easy except leaving. When Holly got the call that night that more cops had been shot, she knew where she wanted to be. This time, Gail didn’t let either of them down. Gail kept a tight grip on her hand the entire evening.
Sometimes crises can bring out the best in people.
Gail sighed at her own cynicism. All evening, in the back of her mind was what would happen when they were alone again. She couldn’t stand all this caring, all this acceptance, all this… waiting.
“I’m serious. I’ll take you home. Just leave your car here. I’ll pick you up in the morning and we’ll come back here together. Okay? You need to sleep. It’s been a long day.”
Holly squeezed her arm as Gail looked at her in wonderment. No pressure to go home together, only what Gail needed that night. This woman was too good to her. She made decisions they both knew Gail did not want to make.
The next morning, Gail was silent when Holly came by to pick her up, and they stayed quiet on the way to the hospital. Holly shut off the ignition in the car park and turned to her.
“You okay? I mean, all things considered?”
“Yeah, yeah, of course.” Gail looked out the window, but didn’t make a move to open her door.
“Gail…” Holly’s hand went to Gail’s neck as she tenderly ran her thumb across her cheek.
“Holly, I don’t know what I’m doing.” Gail was close to tears as she turned to Holly. It seemed strange, she didn’t exactly mean with her, but their lips met as if it were the moment's most natural progression. As if they needed a reminder about the two of them, assuring each other that they were still there, still Holly and Gail. About to embark on something more exciting that anything Gail had ever felt, all in the midst of trauma and tragedy. But she couldn’t let go, not now, not this. Not Holly.
Gail held the back of her neck as they pulled away just enough to talk. “Later? Today?” Why did she feel like her need for Holly was exacerbated by what was happening with her friends? It felt all wrong, and yet inevitable.
Holly smiled. “Yeah. Whenever you want to leave.” Her words calmed Gail, and they returned to the waiting room, hand in hand.
It was not an easy day. Information from the doctors dribbled in. Everyone had that weary, frustrated looked that anticipated bad news. They were cops, and part of that weariness was knowing that this was not the last time they’d be there. Again, everyone was polite and caring, respectful and knowing when they talked to the two of them, as if they were a couple, a real couple. Gail wanted to cut them down, force them to say what they were really feeling. Why was Steve so cool about this? Why were they all? She saw Nick talking to Chris. Nick must know by now. What were they saying? Were they comparing notes on what it was like, dating a lez? She looked at Holly, and as always, felt the ground beneath her feet. Holly was watching her.
“Gail. I know this shit. I can tell, and they don’t care. They don’t care that you’re with a woman, they care about you.”
Gail rolled her eyes, again. She was the mean girl, how could that be true? Now she was getting what she deserved. Snark behind her back because she was the one always dishing it out. Now it was coming back to haunt her.
“Besides, you’re with me, and they love me.” Holly’s smile was playfully smug, but Gail knew what was behind it.
“You don’t know how I’ve tormented my friends.”
Holly shrugged. “They’re still your friends, Gail. I can see they care about you.” She leaned in conspiratorially. “Even if you don’t.”
“All this caring, I think I’m having an allergic reaction,” Gail said as she shook her head and stood up. “I’m not helping. Can we leave?”
Holly looked at her doubtfully, but she had promised. “Why don’t you say goodbye to a few people first?”
“I don’t need to,” she mumbled, annoyed at Holly’s stern expression in response. “Okay, okay.” She looked into her eyes and saw the question. “I’ll see you in a little bit. Right behind you.” And then she kissed Holly on the lips, ever so briefly. Like a real couple, saying a quick goodbye. Holly smiled as she watched Gail walk away.
Gail told a few people she was taking off, but at the last minute decided to stop by Oliver’s room before leaving.
“Hey. I just wanted to say I’m really glad you’re feeling better.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, I bet you are.”
She laughed, a little embarrassed. “Like, really glad. Don’t do that again, okay, Oliver?”
He saw the serious look in her eyes and squeezed her hand. “Okay. I’ll make you a deal. I won’t do that again, if you promise to let yourself be happy.”
She smirked and gave him the Peck eyeroll.
“If she makes you happy, that’s all that matters,” he insisted. He looked at Celery sitting in a corner chair and smiled warmly at her.
Gail was slightly confused. “You’re talking about you, right?”
Oliver just smiled back, cocked his head and pointed straight at Gail.
She nodded, embarrassed again. In a quiet voice, she said, “Okay. See you soon.”
As she walked out the door, she heard Oliver yell, “Say hi to Holly for me.” She grinned and kept walking.
But the drive to Holly’s by herself unnerved her. She thought of how she’d failed Nick, then Chris, then Nick again. How she’d stolen that win from Dov and that he’d never retaliated. How she’d failed to pat down that suspect and it ended up with someone being killed. It didn’t matter that she knew, somehow, that she was a pretty damn good police officer. It was the failures that mattered. She was a Peck, after all. And now she was about to go to a woman who turned her world upside down, knocking her off her feet in a way she did not think possible. A game-changer, as Dov would say, a woman she knew everyone in the department must think was too good for her. She was too good for her, but Gail couldn’t stop herself. Her desire for Holly was like a force of nature that she could not control. Why did Holly want Gail anyway? Didn’t she know that she was a hot mess, that Gail would fail her like she’d failed everyone else? Her partners, her parents, everyone? And she didn’t even know what she was doing, what if she was terrible in bed? Then Holly would end it, and they’d all be better off.
Except Gail, whose burn for that sexy brain was almost uncontrollable. Holly, whose breasts she could barely stop thinking about, whose kisses she kept reliving in her mind, over and over. She wasn’t worried about what would happen in bed, not really. Gail could not stop thinking about what Holly might taste like, warm and wet. She’d never done that before, but she was obsessed with those imaginings now. And when she forced them out of her head, they were replaced with what Holly’s mouth would feel like on her, and the jolt that thought immediately caused was painful, every time.
She stormed into Holly’s house, determined. She needed alcohol, and even Holly’s kind suggestion that she eat something first was brushed aside. She didn’t need food, she needed to stop thinking. About the past and the future.
She disappeared into the bathroom and sat on the toilet with the bottle of bourbon. She cried about everything that had happened in the last couple of days, about her desire for Holly even though she was convinced Holly would see through her soon enough. She kept drinking and the thoughts began to blur into one another. If she could just start over, be a better person, be deserving of something good.
Gail thought about what people might be saying now, behind her back. She was scared to death. It was one thing, revealing herself to the men in her life. This was something else altogether. This woman understood her. And Gail knew that these feelings she had for Holly were not transient. They had a name for people like her. Like her and Holly. She felt like her very skin was being peeled away, exposing blood and nerves and feeling.
“Let’s make it real,” she mumbled to herself when she saw a pair of scissors. A few snips, and that long hair was gone. She looked at the inches, thinking about the time each one represented. She felt her short hair and thought to herself, isn’t this what she’s supposed to look like now? Maybe Holly has long hair, but… one of them should have short hair, shouldn’t they? But that was supposed to be the butch one, and if there were any roles in this relationship, that would be Holly, not her. She thought about how beautiful Holly was, and looked at the cut braid in her hand, and the tears fell again.
A knock on the door, and there was Holly. “So, this is happening.”
Gail ranted at her for a bit, all the while amazed that Holly took it in stride. No overreaction, she was just… there. For her. Holly moved her to the tub, took the scissors, and in a half hour made the chop job look pretty good.
If the alcohol made Gail maudlin, it also worked to drop her guard. It wasn’t hard to be honest now. Holly smiled broadly when Gail told her she was the coolest chick ever.
“Not bad for a forensic pathologist,” Holly said, admiring her work. “Kinda beautiful, actually.”
“Oh really,” Gail protested, unconvincingly.
“Yeah. You are.” Holly sat in front of her and touched her face. Her tenderness nearly made Gail weep. Holly ran her thumb over Gail’s lower lip before slowly leaning in and kissing her. Gail was losing herself again.
Holly rubbed her arms, and said, “Let’s wash this mess down the drain.” She stood her up, but they came together again, always in sync, always to Gail’s amazement. She wanted to ask Holly if it was like this with every woman, but it was gone in a flash. She really didn’t care. She only cared about this woman in front of her.
Before she knew it, cold water was pouring down on them. Holly was laughing, and Gail couldn’t stop herself. Holly would not stop kissing her, not for anything, and it was like making out in a downpour. Neither wanted to stop.
Holly ran her hands through Gail’s hair in an attempt to wash out the clippings, and then turned off the water.
“Now what,” Gail asked, her confidence ebbing away. She felt stone sober, too.
Holly smiled into Gail’s lips, finally saying, “Now off with these.”
They helped each other peel off their wet clothes. Gail thought she would have an attack of shy panic, but curiously, she didn’t. Maybe because she was busy helping Holly out of her clothes, while Holly was busy taking off Gail’s. Gail ran her hands underneath Holly’s shirt, up her sides. She pulled her close again and kissed her. Holly unzipped Gail’s jeans and slipped her hands between the thin elastic of her underwear and smooth skin. She worked her jeans a little way off before hands made their way to Gail’s buttocks and she squeezed them tight, pulling her torso to her while moaning into their kiss.
Taking off these wet clothes could take a while.
It went slowly, as they explored each other’s slippery bodies, lips locked, mouths open, breathing hard. They giggled as they almost fell, off balance as they pulled their jeans off. Holly grabbed a large, soft bath towel and dried Gail’s body carefully before running it over her wet head. She draped it over Gail’s shoulders while smoothing out her ruffled hair.
“Yeah, definitely beautiful.” She kissed Gail again, pulling the towel tight around her. She seemed wholly unself-conscious of being buck naked in front of Gail, whose hands had proven to be hungry, and Holly let herself enjoy that hunger as she satisfied her own.
Gail gazed into Holly’s eyes. “You are so beautiful,” she said, shaking her head. Her eyes brazenly took in Holly’s body before she kissed her again, took the towel off and dried off Holly with as much care as Holly had shown her, both of them revelling in each moment of intimacy. She wrapped the towel around both of them and pulled her close, kissing her again.
“Do you want me to dry your hair before…?”
“No,” Holly whispered into yet another kiss, her hand holding the back of Gail’s head. “Want you now.” She paused. “Okay?” Her eyes met Gail’s and waited for the answer.
Gail nodded, but quickly ran the towel through Holly’s hair. The towel dropped the floor, as two relatively dry bodies came together again in a deep embrace, with a deep kiss. This time it was hard, as hands wandered in exploration. Gail let out a tiny exclamation of astonishment—appreciation?—as her hands held Holly’s full breasts, her thumbs lightly grazing over dark, hardening nipples. But Holly’s hands were on Gail’s ass again, pulling her close.
Holly led her into the bedroom. For all their urgency, Holly saw Gail’s slightly dazed, uncertain look. “Do you want to slow down?”
Gail continued to gaze into her eyes, finally shaking her head. “Fuck, I want you so bad, it’s freaking me out, Holly.” She kissed her again, and was met with a fierce, needy mouth. They both groaned into that hard kiss and fell on the sheets. They slid against each other’s bodies, rolling over and over each other, trying to maintain as much contact as possible.
Breathing hard, one hand underneath Gail’s shoulders with the other in her hair, Holly murmured in Gail’s ear, “God, you feel so good, Gail.”
Gail was in awe of Holly’s body. It is true that she’d entertained the idea of being with women before. The sexy librarian types she now knew was her thing. But this, this was different. She was nearly shaking with anticipation. Everything was crystal clear yet it felt like an onslaught of feeling and sensation. She could not get enough of Holly’s body, but when she felt Holly’s knowing hand drift down her stomach, around her ass, slowly come up along the inside of her right thigh, then stop at the junction and gently cup her there, she almost lost control.
Holly’s eyes never left hers, even as Gail’s shut tight and then opened wide with a loud exclamation as Holly’s fingers traveled lightly up her folds.
“Oh, oh, fuck Holly…” A middle finger circled an engorging bud, then slowly entered her. She was creaming in Holly’s hand. She wanted to be embarrassed, but Holly feeling her this way shut her mind off. Everything was feeling, everything was electric. She was panting now, pleading with Holly, incoherent desires, all at her confident hand. She didn’t think it would be like this. The ache was unbearable, until two fingers entered her and Holly’s palm rocked her. Until her back arched and for a few seconds, she stopped breathing completely.
Holly was milliseconds away from demanding that Gail take a breath when she finally groaned in capitulation, catching her breath with soft exclamations against Holly shoulder. She shuddered several times as Holly held her tightly, staying there, peppering her languidly with kisses but holding her close until she recovered.
“You okay?” More concern.
“Uh, yeah.” She didn’t want to talk about it. She kept her arms wrapped around Holly and sighed. Holly, as always, knew exactly what Gail needed.
Or she thought she did. Suddenly, Gail rolled them over, her hands in Holly’s hair. She kissed her so hard Holly had a hard time catching her breath. Hands still in her hair, Gail murmured, “I want to do this to you. Fuck, Holly, I’ve wanted to do this to you for so long.” As if it was her desire that had returned, as if her pain would worsen if she didn’t do what she needed to do, and right now.
Holly looked at her expectantly. Gail slowed and began kissing her neck, then lower, her breasts and between them, taking extra time to kiss the soft fullness of the outside of each, revelling in how perfect and tender they were, then breathing in the scent of her raised arm before lightly tonguing her ear. She kissed her lips oh so sweetly, then dropped down to her abdomen. She slowly kissed Holly’s navel, and went lower still. Holly was breathing hard now, knowing what Gail was about to do. She briefly chastised herself for letting Gail come so quickly when she had wanted to go down on her slowly, relentlessly, until Gail begged her to stop. But now it was Gail whose hunger for her taste was irrepressible. A low moan escaped Holly’s lips as her eyes shut and her hands went to Gail’s head, followed by a high-pitched sigh as she felt a hot, wet mouth against her there, a tongue hesitatingly dancing around her clit before confidence took over and she felt that tongue deep inside her, eating her out with pleasure.
Gail, as it turned out, had a vivid imagination. She knew exactly what others had done to her, what felt good, what felt boring, what she wished others had done to her. She gave that all to Holly, who was so aroused that Gail had to hold her down at the hips. Holly felt the rush of warmth spreading across her abdomen like fire, felt herself swelling even more as the sharpness of her orgasm took over, only to feel Gail slow as she slowed, and then to bring her back up instead of letting her all the way down.
Gail kept this up for so long, Holly had no sense of time, feeling only wave after wave through her entire body, until she was the one begging Gail to stop, until she could take no more.
Gail looked up at her, kissing her thighs as she wiped Holly’s wetness off of her face. Holly pulled her up to her face and Gail kissed her before burying her face in the crook of her neck.
“You lied to me.”
“What?” Gail asked in surprise.
“No way that was that your first time.”
They both giggled and kissed again. “I just didn’t want to stop. Holly, you are so amazing. So beautiful when you come, and you taste so fucking good… I had no idea it could be like this.”
They were both on their sides facing each other, lips close for easy and frequent contact.
“So, do lesbians really scissor? That just seems kind of awkward.”
“Some do, but I’m old school. But we can try it if you want. We can try anything.” Holly’s hand was in Gail’s hair, or on her thigh, or fondling a breast. She couldn’t keep her hands off of her. She pulled her close and they kissed deeply, again.
“You’re not working tomorrow, are you?”
“Nope. And neither are you.” Holly suddenly became shy. “Do you want to spend the weekend here?”
“Here, as in, your house? Or here, as in, your bed?” Gaily replied coyly.
“What do you think.” Holly rolled on top of her, serious again. “I just can’t get enough of you.” Her eyes left Gail’s for a moment.
“Holly? What is it?”
“I’m afraid if you go, I won’t see you again for a while.” Her eyes were open and honest, and a little sad. “I’m afraid you’ll get cold feet, and this’ll be it.”
“No way. Did you forget what you just did to me? Baby, I’ve got some issues, but I am not afraid of this. If I’m afraid of anything, it’s wanting this too much.” The words came out before she thought twice, and she bit her lip.
But Holly just grinned, and kissed her lightly, but slowly. “Don’t be afraid of wanting me. Please. Baby.” She enunciated that last word carefully. She liked it. They kissed again, building up the intensity for yet another round.
Hours later, both were asleep. Exhausted, but content even in the midst of worry. Gail woke up first and checked her phone on Holly’s nightstand. No news. She felt a warm arm wrap around her waist as Holly snuggled into her, still half asleep but kissing her lower back.
“Come back. Not up yet.”
Gail chuckled and turned to her lover, wrapping her body around Holly’s. She was filled with warmth and affection for her, with a fondness she’d never known before. It wasn’t as if she’d never known love—she had, but it was fraught, conditional, somehow always with a wrench thrown into it. This was nothing like that. She felt peaceful with Holly. Nervous sometimes, afraid of her own failures, afraid of not being good enough. But in that moment, she felt something changing within her. Something changing for the better, and she knew it was because of Holly.