Chapter 1: Sweetly, sweetly I breathe in
Ann/Leslie, established relationship.
Ann slides her finger down the faded page of the recipe, one her mother copied out years ago still on it's original index card. "Two cups of sugar," she reads, half from memory. Leslie hefts the bag from the lower cabinet, not hesitating at the handle, no longer cautious in Ann's kitchen. She unfolds the top, fills the scoop and levels off the remainder with her finger, catching Ann's glare before she pops her finger into her mouth.
"What? I'll wash!" she says, though the words come out garbled and with a small spray of pixie white.
Ann dumps the sugar into her bowl, trying to keep her smile down. "If you're done cleaning yourself I need another cup," she says, attempting an intimidating glare that manifests somewhere between amused and besotted.
Leslie hangs the offensive finger under the tap and dutifully washes up. "We're the ones who are going to eat 'em, right? So it shouldn't matter if our germs are baked inside." She pouts seriously and fusses with Ann's kitchen towel. Her head drops to Ann's shoulder. "Don't you like my germs?"
"I love your germs," Ann allows, kissing the crown of Leslie's head. "Just not in my cookies."
Chapter 2: a Tongue impress'd with honey
Ann/April, current season
"You're married," Ann says, stepping back, blinking.
April slouches. "And you're old," she says, her tone indicating that Ann should already be aware of this fact.
"I dated your husband, April." Ann shakes her head, placing her hands (palm open) against the wall to steady herself.
"Oh, and you're really annoying. Did I mention that? I didn't? Okay: you're really annoying." April sighs. "And now I'm getting bored. Why are we talking?"
"Because you kissed me, and while I think it's fabulous that you don't hate me anymore, at least, I don't think so, I--" Ann holds out a hand, immediately aware that she's shaking slightly, "I'm totally straight. So there must be a mixed message there somew--"
And then Ann stops talking because April is kissing her again, and Ann thinks You sure don't kiss like a married woman, and What the hell does a married woman kiss like, and Oh, and Okay, and when April pulls back, smirking, Ann's sure this is probably all some kind of joke and she never much cared for April Fools.
"If you're straight, I'm Janet Snakehole."
"But you're not Janet Snakehole."
"Exactly." April's lips lift at the corners. "And don't worry. I still hate you."
Chapter 3: i saw it all crystal clear
Olivia & Nina, yellow-verse.
She hears the door, wills herself to stop crying, but only manages to redouble her efforts.
"Olive! I'm home!"
There's Nina. She knows it's Nina, not anyone out to get her, not anyone to chase her down and tease her about the distant look in her eye, about her drawings, about her crying jags. There's Nina, who'll sit with her on the bed and offer her hand (the real one) and, if Olive wants, who'll bake cookies instead of dinner. There's Nina, who was the first kind face Olive had seen in months when they met. Who still is, most of the time.
Still, Olive can't seem to stop crying. She feels hotter than she should, and her fingers shake.
"Olive?" Nina's voice comes again, and then her face (concerned -- her mouth down-turned), and then the rest of her, her gloved fingers around the door frame. "Oh, Olive," she says, and she comes and sits with her on the bed and offers her hand (the real one) and after Olive's counted to fifteen twice and her throat feels raw and her eyes are dry, Nina squeezes her fingers and says with a sharp intake of breath," Well, Olive, if you want, I might just be in the mood for a treat instead of meatloaf, what do you think?"
She'd like to curl up in Nina's lap and let her brush through the knots in her hair, she'd like to (half-asleep, lulled) tell Nina about the boys who pushed her down and the band-aid she hastily applied to her torn-up knee. She'd like to fall asleep without seeing the air shimmer.
"Meatloaf is fine," she says, instead.
Chapter 4: the foxes tried to keep them warm
Betty can't sleep, and that's how come she doesn't jerk awake when her door slides open. It's hours later -- it must be -- when she finally shifts out of a dream, groaning, shifting against the warm body tucked neatly against her. Soft, small breasts. She makes a sound, some noise of distress or longing -- she must -- because Kate blinks quickly (hummingbird-like), shifts, and smiles. "Sorry if I startled you, Betty!" Kate says shyly, her cheeks pink more (Betty's sure) from the warmth of the room than any sort of embarrassment.
"I didn't expect you, is all," Betty manages, quickly throwing back the comforter and swinging her legs off the bed to stand. She wants to stay, it's not that, but wanting to say mightn't be the best idea.
"Oh," Kate says, and suddenly Betty can't think of a worse idea than leaving her in the bed alone. "I only... well, you said if the nightmares got worse..."
"Of course," Betty says, settling back down on one knee, still standing but not commiting to it. "I meant that and I mean it. I just didn't hear you come in." She reaches forward, unable to stop herself and unwilling to, either. She touches the red curl settled at Kate's temple, tracing the line of it with the tip of her finger. "You don't have to talk about it, if you don't want to." Betty sits, still half-off the bed, still half-ready to bolt if she has to. Still wanting, more than anything, to be asked to stay. (Silly, the thought comes, this is her bed.)
Kate bites at her lip, scoots over, and pats at the warm spot in the sheets where Betty was lying only a moment ago. "I'd rather just be close, if you don't mind." And Betty doesn't, God, she doesn't. She lies down, stiff and hot, her pulse throbbing. "You're my lucky charm, Betty," Kate continues, her hand reaching out this time, touching Betty's forehead and brushing back her hair. "My sweet, lucky charm."
Betty can't manage her voice to reply, but presses a quick kiss to Kate's wrist instead. It's an acknowledgement and a promise, one she hopes, hopes against hope, that Kate reciprocates.
Chapter 5: acting like there's nothing to fear
Franky/Mini, season 6.
Franky sets the cup down in front of Mini without preamble. (She knows, Mini discovers quickly, that Mini likes her mochas with cinnamon.) "You've been sleeping with Alo," Franky says, fingering the edge of her own cup. (And she's been at this for awhile, Mini supposes, judging by the state of the thing.)
"Just fucking," Mini says, and shrugs. "I'm surprised you noticed. I hear you've been off doing the same." Franky doesn't reply or sit down, just keeps flicking at her coffee cup. "Not with Alo, naturally. I'd probably notice that."
That, finally, gets a response. Franky's upper lip twitches in what Mini can't quite decide is laughter or derision. "Didn't think he was your type," Franky says in a tone of voice that goes straight for the gut. She doesn't sit down, still, but rubs at the knitted green cap on her head, having found, Mini supposes, a new target to give her cup a break.
"Wasn't aware you were the fuck police." Mini watches Franky's face shift, pink blooming in her cheeks.
"Wasn't aware I was the fuck anything," Franky says, finally, swallowing hard and turning to go. "Enjoy your coffee."
Chapter 6: those days (i can't remember where they went)
When Laura looks up, she knows better than to try and hide her smile. Audrey is making small noises of frustration, staring at her fingers like they haven't been a part of her hands for her whole life. "Need help?" Laura asks, collecting her mouth into some semblance of seriousness.
"You'd think," Audrey says, hissing and shaking her right hand roughly, "that by now someone would have made glue that doesn't stick to flesh."
"Oh, that ruins half of the fun." Laura stretches, setting down her own craft tool du jour -- one from a box of oil pastels, green -- and wiggles her big toe against the outside of Audrey's thigh. "Don't you remember being in play school and gluing your hands together, picking it off?"
"If I picked this off, it would only stick to my other hand." Still, she gamely makes the attempt. Sure enough, the pieces of broken glass only shift their attentions to Audrey's left hand. She huffs out some word they're really not supposed to know, let alone say, and rolls her eyes at Laura. "A development that I, by the way, wouldn't suggest laughing about."
"Wouldn't dream of it," Laura says, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. She could watch Audrey scramble all day, the way her lips twist in concentration, her dainty little fingers decorated with the colored glass. The thought-line that furrows up between her eyebrows, the glint in her eye. "Let me help, all right?" she asks, playing nice for a change, and catches Audrey's hand in her own, her thumb tracing the life line.