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It's a cup of tea waiting by her station in the morning, and the small packages of blends from home that keep finding their way into her stash somehow.

It's stopping by the bio lab and finding Cora busy with a new batch of seedlings. It's a flush crawling up her neck when she's spotted and the other woman quirks an all too telling eyebrow, and the same flush spreading to her face when she's asked if she happens to know how these things got here and why.

(To the first, no. To the second?)

It's leaving the lab again – flustered, breathless and light - and going about the rest of her day; utterly distracted and completely unable to keep from smiling.

---•♥•---

It's a glance (or twenty) whenever she's on the bridge. It's small smiles, and - when Kallo sighs in loud and obvious exasperation - low coughs and blushes completely unbecoming of a Pathfinder.

It's leaning against Suvi's console on one hip; turned enough that Kallo can't see her ‘lovesick’ (according to Vetra) expression. It's pulling her best, childish faces while Suvi tries to be serious, and feeling something in her chest jump and flutter and melt whenever she gets a soft breath of laughter in response.

It's a private comm channel, and the murmur of Suvi's voice in her ear every time she leaves the Tempest in favor of solid ground.

(Be careful. Be safe.)

---•♥•---

It's checking on the seedlings one day; after her shift and when she knows the lab will be empty, because she hasn't quite figured out how to counter the astoundingly professional variety of teasing that Cora has somehow perfected.

It's catching a tiny, new leaf on the edge of her finger, recognizing its color and structure, and needing to bite the inside of her cheek hard to fight back a sudden wave of emotion.

(Camellia Sinensis; not that she expected any less. Sara never told and Suvi hasn't asked, but she still knew. Who, what and why, if not exactly how.)

It's the hiss of the door and the tread of newly familiar feet; the warmth of another body at her side and Sara's profile in her peripheral vision. It's a long moment of peaceful silence and then - when Suvi's hand settles on the small of Sara's back – a smile and a joke about how Cora might be wasted as a biotic soldier considering her proficiency as a gardener.

It's a slow, soft rush of affection that threatens to make her eyes spill over, and a kiss colored sunshine-gold by the scent of new life.

---•♥•---

It's spotting Suvi among the spectators when downtime includes the cargo bay; when the sparring that starts out organized inevitably devolves into loosely – very loosely - controlled chaos. It’s pushing harder, evading faster, and steadfastly ignoring the blatant amusement on Cora’s face. It's lingering – after - instead of heading for a sorely needed shower; waiting as the others make their increasingly obvious excuses and leave, because she ‘accidentally’ messes up folding her sweatshirt five times straight, and since she usually doesn't bother to fold it at all, it probably has all the subtlety of a punch to the face.

(Gil mutters about the drive core, Liam claps her on the back, Cora rolls her eyes, and Jaal doesn't ask though he clearly wants to. Drack snorts, and Peebee tells her that if handling clothing is that hard, she needs to spend less time wearing any.)

It's a touch to her arm that gently turns her around when the last door closes. It's a fingertip against her sternum and movement - her back and Suvi forward - and a look in those eyes that sends a nervous sort of thrill chasing itself up and down her spine. It's a smile against her cheek, a hand curled around her waist, and a whisper by her ear that Peebee might have a point.

It's a hot, heavy flare that settles low in her belly and a laugh that slips free; as breathless and embarrassingly shaky as the rest of her, and steadied only by the solid hull at her back and the feather-light brush of Suvi's lips against her own.

It's want. But more importantly, it's patience.

---•♥•---

It's friendship and trust. It's affection and understanding.

It's terrifyingly wonderful, or maybe wonderfully terrifying.

(Neither of them would change a thing.)

---•♥•---

It's the light, almost hesitant touches Sara offers; halting and curious whenever it's something she does for the first time, as if she wants to make sure she isn't overstepping. It's the softening of the skin around her eyes when Suvi smiles, or leans into her, or finds some other way - physical or verbal - of confirming that her affection is welcome (that in all honesty she's starving for it, but Sara is new to this and Suvi doesn't want to push too far, too fast).

It's the growing ease Sara shows when they find some small sliver of time to be alone; in her posture, her words, her smiles, and – when the chance is there - in the way she maps increasingly large patches of skin while Suvi bites the inside of her lip and fights to control her rebellious desires. It's torture of the cruelest, sweetest kind; the press of their bodies and the heat of Sara's mouth, and the sharp sound of her breath catching when her touch slips higher and Suvi forgets about the lock she's supposed to have on her vocal chords.

It's feeling her heart stutter in her chest when she can watch those eyes darken; when the heat in that gaze goes from glowing ember to roaring flame in the space between one inhalation and the next. It's the sudden realization of how easily she can put that look there – wonder, exultation, pride – and also the gentle warmth of acceptance when Sara half-freezes and chews her own lip; clearly caught between a metaphorical rock and a hard place.

(Suvi is using increasingly small portions of her allotted hot water rations, and it is so unquestionably worth it. Besides, the supply logs tell her that Sara is doing the same thing.)

---•♥•---

It's wanting something - someone - so much that she barely knows what to do with herself. It's annoying because she's hardly a blushing virgin, just... new to the whole 'falling at terminal velocity (and for another woman)' thing. It's self-doubt of the worst kind because Suvi deserves everything and Sara barely has any time to give, and it's slowly finding her feet anyway because Suvi keeps steadying her when she loses her balance; keeps waiting – smiling and undemanding – for her to catch up and she damn well shouldn't have to.

It's hours and hours of research on the extranet when she really should be sleeping because when in doubt, learn. It's stolen moments of jealously hoarded privacy on sites she never dreamed existed; it's painstakingly deleting every single, resulting log because the last thing the rest of the crew needs is more ammo, and it's Suvi finding out – and finding her – anyway, because this once she was an airhead and actually forgot that they'd planned to meet.

It's too much heat in her cheeks and a weirdly adolescent shyness that makes her look away; a hum and a cough and – when she finally makes her voice obey – a somewhat humiliating explanation that includes how she doesn't really know what she's doing (not a secret), but still wants everything to be perfect (probably not a secret either).

It's the touch of Suvi's fingers to her jaw, and a gentle nudge to bring her back. It's a look of tender exasperation, a smile that's small and crooked and warmer than any she's ever seen, and an answer that makes her heart swell until science couldn't even try to explain how it still fits inside her chest.

(You absolute, beautiful idiot. It's you. How could it ever be anything else?)

---•♥•---

It's butterflies in her stomach (hoary, but apt) every time she witnesses Sara's confidence growing; at every casual touch, every softening smile and every lingering glance. It's standing by the email console on the bridge when she enters after a particularly long stay planetside and feeling – actually, physically feeling – that gaze find her; a long, heated look that travels slowly from the top of her head to the tips of her toes and back, and goosebumps skittering hot and cold across her skin when their eyes meet.

(Kallo coughs eleven times in a row and mutters something inaudible before making a hasty exit, and Sara gives him a sheepish, pink-cheeked shrug as he passes, but doesn't stop him.)

It's a slow, shaky exhale as the door slides shut, and a moment of almost electric anticipation when Sara stays where she is; at usual, military ease with her spine ramrod-straight, her shoulders back and - distinctly outside the norms of that posture - her neck bent just so and those eyes fixed on her from beneath heavy lids. It's Sara moving - stalking - closer in a captivating display of sinuous motion while the butterflies do somersaults in response, and it's the console hard and cold against her lower back while Sara is warm and soft against her entire front.

It's a pause – not a long one, but enough for Sara's brow to quirk and Suvi's lips to do the same – and the butterflies zip from her stomach to her chest and beat their wings against her ribs with a manic sort of glee. It's her heart squeezing and leaping and flopping around like a fish out of water, because Suvi can write a thousand pages on the intricacies found in a handful of pebbles, but she can't find the words to describe how this woman makes her feel by simply checking that what she wants to do is okay.

It's the fine hairs on Sara's cheek whisper-soft under her palm, and the achingly welcome security of those arms around her. It's the scent of her skin and the motion of her breathing, and the taste of her lips for the first time in damn near two whole weeks, which is so completely unacceptable that there should rightly be some kind of galactic law against it.

It's sending an email a bare day later, taking a breath, and crossing her fingers.

--•♥•---

It's the way Suvi's eyes light up when she talks about her passions; when something that was supposed to be a brief explanation inevitably becomes an increasingly lengthy ramble, complete with more detours than a crew of 30 newly minted marines on their first weekend leave (or pretty close to that, anyway, from what Sara remembers). It's smiling because Suvi's excitement is infectious, and watching her face soften whenever she asks a question that proves she's listening.

It's a flash of light at the edge of her vision, and the soft mention of a locked door. It's Suvi watching her through her lashes - close, but not coming closer - and a long, trembling exhalation that happens only when she moves in. It's questioning touches growing steady and sure, Suvi's skin hot under her hands and a dizzying rush of what's almost addiction; to the look in her eyes, the graze of her teeth and the sound of her voice breaking.

It's the lab as a resulting mess that Suvi laughs against her shoulder to see, and one that they start to clean up several times before they actually manage to finish the job.

It's inhaling the scent of Suvi's hair in the middle of the night, somewhere in the space between waking and dreaming. It's the steady push and pull of someone else's breathing, the warmth of another body curled against her own, and the smooth softness of skin under her lips when she kisses a nearby shoulder before drifting off once more.

(She dreams of Suvi, too. The only thing better is reality.)

---•♥•---

It's fear, sometimes (it's fear much too often). It's static-heavy, mid-mission voice comms and vidcalls where one is often bleeding and both are pale and stressed.

It's injuries and arguments, communications that cut out mid-sentence and the icy chill of not knowing anything; it's panic and worrying until it physically hurts.

It's death waiting on the doorstep; it's death inside and then somehow – though science or magic or divine intervention – back on the doorstep again.

It's the medbay and a tight, desperate embrace while Lexi herds everyone else out, and three tiny words that mean more than an entire universe.

--•♥•---

It's waking in a warm tangle of arms and legs when the overhead lights brighten; usually to Sara's half-opened eyes and lazy smile, but sometimes – just sometimes – to the sight of her still asleep. It's pillow creases and mussed-up hair, slow, near-inaudible breathing and the secure hold that twitches the instant Suvi stirs, as if already refusing to let go.

It's signaling SAM to wait - just for a moment - and taking that moment to brush a stray lock of hair from Sara's cheek. It's touching her face and kissing her nose and letting her wake from that instead; it's hearing the low hum and feeling the slow flex of the hand that rests in the space between her shoulders, and smiling when the lips that catch her own do the same.

It's the curl of sleep-warm fingers around the back of her neck and the trace of slow, knowing touches; along the dip of her spine, over the side of her waist and lower until she's snapping for air. It's Sara's mouth hot against her throat and the world turning on its ear without warning. It's the bed soft under her back and Sara hovering over her, pausing – checking – the way she still does and probably always will; not because she doubts, but because she cares.

It's Suvi impossibly loving her more; in that moment, and in so many others. It's tugging her down until they're skin to skin and she can taste the soft laugh on her own tongue, and it's Sara safe and happy and in her arms; pulling back only so she can breathlessly instruct SAM to stop logging.

(Suvi grins and lifts herself up until they're kissing again. They're going to be late, the reason is going to be obvious, the others are going to be merciless, and she can't find it in herself to care a single whit.)

---•♥•---

It's learning that when someone is looking for Suvi, her quarters have become the first place to go. It's finding data pads that need a different login - on the nightstand, the coffee table, the workstation in the corner - and realizing that while she may only be seeing them now, they've been there for weeks or more. It's a plush toy that isn't hers on the side of the bed that isn't hers either, a bowl with carefully labeled samples from across Heleus, a discarded sweater half-folded across the sofa's arm and a semi-organized pile of actual, handwritten notes with an honest-to-God pen on top.

It's feeling strangely lightheaded and sitting down, and realizing after a long, slow survey of her surroundings that they... are probably living together. It's a rush of warmth spreading outwards from the center of her chest and a smile that threatens to split her face in half, and it's a sudden, bubbling laugh that she hasn't heard herself use since before her mother took ill. It's an extranet search that she kind of wants to do but really, really shouldn't, because while her forays into educating herself would pass, the log on 'how to ask your live-in lover if she's actually living with you' would probably last long enough to make it back to the Milky Way if it somehow got out.

It's the fabric of the sweater soft and well-worn between her fingers. It's a short, shallow breath and missing her brother's presence until the corners of her eyes burn from it, because while Scott would undoubtedly tease her, he would also listen; would keep her confidence like he always has, and would offer every bit of support and advice he could think of because that's what he does.

It's being anchored and adrift at the same time. It's the sweater as a makeshift pillow and a breath colored by its soothing, familiar scent, followed by another and another. It's staring unseeingly at the ceiling while the Tempest thrums near-soundlessly at the edges of her hearing, and wishing – a little selfishly – for an outside party to talk this over with.

It's falling asleep on Suvi's sweater, and waking up with her head in Suvi's lap. It's the motion of tender fingers carding slowly through her hair, and Suvi watching her with that look she gets sometimes; the one that lends an almost-glow to her eyes like she hears everything that Sara hasn't yet figured out how to ask or say.

It's a one-word request, and an answer around a gentle smile.

(Stay. Of course.)

---•♥•---

It's time and their enemies both bearing down on them. It's Sara tempering like steel under the weight still heaping onto her shoulders, and Suvi working until her hands are shaking from exhaustion because there has to be some way they can do something.

(A thought takes hold, and leads to Suvi finding the path that guides them all to Meridian. Part of her fears that all she found was one more way for Sara to die, and when the Archon proves her right, only SAM and Scott manage to keep her from being right indefinitely.)

It's data and charts and every combatant on the Tempest practically chomping at the bit. It's Sara at the edge of her vision on the bridge; set-faced and stiff-backed and knuckles white from the force of her grip on the railing. It's a race against the Kett and their own doom and not enough time for Sara to rest.

It's everyone scrambling to prepare while the bridge is – for once – still and silent. It's Suvi scanning her console and feeling the weight of time running out, and letting herself be selfish enough to ask anyway.

It's the well-known weight of slender hands in hers and a promise that Sara doesn't have the power to make. It's a breath, a hug, and a kiss that she tries not to remember could be the last.

It's cradling that face in the palms of her hands, and feeling the thrum of life beneath soft skin. It's closing her eyes when their foreheads touch and being able to just barely hear Sara's heartbeat in all that silence, and it's letting her go in spite of needing to hold on so much that she can hardly breathe. It's Sara's head turning as she passes through the doorway, and a small smile that's meant to reassure but doesn't.

It's praying; for a lot of things, but mostly for her.

---•♥•---

It's Scott's face pale and sweaty and tight with pain, and the heavy arm across her shoulders feeling light as a feather from the strength of her own relief. It's how he leans on her in spite of clearly trying not to, her arm around his back, and the stutter of his laugh when she tells him to quit being such a wannabe hardass.

It's hurting, but living as all of them make their staggering way out into the warmth of Meridian's light (is it technically sunlight? She'll have to find out), and it's victory; not the first and hopefully not the last, but definitely the most monumental.

It's Lexi taking Scott for treatment, and watching the crowd form a circle around her in a silence so awed that she has to remind herself to breathe. It's Suvi excited and rambling and beautiful; completely entranced by her omni-tool and the readings she finds. It's pulling her in and tasting the startled laugh in spite of the whole galaxy watching because they've earned this, and it's carefully keeping the smile from showing when Suvi later refuses a hug because there are too many people around.

It's spending time exploring Meridian from the familiar confines of the Tempest while Scott recovers – while they all do – and not truly realizing how much stress she's been under until it slips from her shoulders.

(She wakes every day and smiles on instinct; from feeling Suvi warm and solid against her, and from knowing that somehow, in spite of the literally astronomical odds against them, they've made it.)

---•♥•---

It's a planetside home on Meridian – more off than on because they're both explorers - and a long, pleasant first morning spent rubbing Suvi's back to rid her of the aches that come with sleeping on the floor. It's Suvi getting a head start on unpacking and assembly while Sara goes to collect the last boxes, and Sara returning by way of her grinning brother; slung over his shoulder like a bipedal sack of grain and wearing an expression of such perfect resignation that the effort not to laugh leaves nail marks in the palm of Suvi's hand.

(A 'special delivery', Scott calls her, and it's not like he's wrong. In return, though, Sara calls him an impressive variety of rude names and - since she's positioned for it anyway - whacks his backside hard enough to make him yelp while Suvi tries not to choke on a mouthful of water.)

It's a first dog that Suvi names Rabbit, and a second one that Sara names Kitty; either because great minds think alike or because Suvi is a terrible influence, depending on who tells the story. It's Sara finally agreeing to learn the lick test (with safe, already known rocks), and Suvi snickering at the faces she makes until she's given a very hands-on reminder of the fact that 1) she is extremely ticklish and 2) Sara loves the sound of her laugh.

It's life on the Tempest continuing; long trips across the cluster and back and more to discover every hour. It's Sara still getting shot at, but at least less so, now. It's planetfalls new and known; Suvi's wonder wide in her eyes with every step, and Sara crouching beside her when they explore together. It's shore leave - chiefly on Meridian or Aya but sometimes in Kadara or elsewhere, too - and lazy, sunny days with families born of blood and bond.

(Suvi doesn't know exactly what Peebee says to Sara on one such day, but it gets her thrown - literally and quite unceremoniously - into the lake they're all lounging by. Sara shrieks and follows not two seconds later by way of a biotic shove, and when Scott howls like an overly theatrical extra from one of Liam's movies and cannonballs in after her, Gil quietly observes that Cora has a terrible poker face. Suvi doesn't disagree, but since Gil is then the next one to screech and go flying, she decides to keep that fact to herself.)

It's time, now; for them, and for what started growing between them from the moment they met. It's long, peaceful evenings spent together; in their quarters on the Tempest, in their home on Meridian, or somewhere with food or music or both. It's time with friends and family and time with the two of them alone; time they no longer have to work so hard to find for either the slow glide of skin on skin, or for curling up together and simply talking.

It's learning; about each other, about dreams and desires and hopes for the future. It's doing the dishes and walking the dogs, arguing and making up, and how they both adjust when needed but would never want the other to actually change.

It's Gil stopping by; with his son, and with the all the pride and exhausted nerves of a new father. It's the baby tangling a fist in Sara's hair and nodding off against her chest; it's Suvi's hand against a tiny, warm back while Gil's snores reverberate down the hall from their guest room, and a long look passing between them before they both smile.

It's two different rings. It's two similar questions and two identical answers.

(All in all, it's pretty damn perfect.)