Chapter 1: Mrs. Officer
“Car 808 is 10-7 for the night. Over.”
Liadrin switched off her radio and placed it in the passenger seat of her unmarked car before leaning her head back against the headrest. She hadn’t really gone out - in fact, this was the first time. And, boy, did she go big. A diner. At two o’clock in the morning. The neon washed over her through the windshield so brightly she had to shut her eyes for a moment before finally forcing herself out of the car.
The inside of the diner was even brighter than the outside. Bathed in unnatural light that glinted off the overdone chrome accents of the counter stools she was heading for. A young woman exited the kitchen in response to the sound of the door ding - standing near the back counter as Liadrin removed her jacket and placed it over the back of the stool before sitting down.
Green eyes trailed over the leather straps of her shoulder holster and to the badge that still hung around her neck before finding Liadrin’s face as she walked over once the woman seemed situated. She didn’t hold a ticket book - that was the first thing Liadrin noticed.
And she was very pretty. That was the second thing Liadrin noticed. Yet her smile was faint and tired despite the slight glint of teeth in the waitress’s returning gesture. Cute smile. Or was it a smirk?
“Hello, Mrs. Officer.”
Ah. A smirk, then. Liadrin glanced down at her nametag then back up at her as she spoke. Valeera.
“Can I get you some coffee? You look tired.”
“Gee, thanks.” Liadrin responded with a chuckle. “And, no, thank you. I’m just getting off.”
“Are you, now?”
Liadrin lifted a brow as she fiddled with her menu.
“Take it easy. Joking isn’t against the law, last time I checked. What would you like, then? Glass of milk before bed, or…?”
“Water.” Liadrin’s eyes flashed back up at Valeera, then, and stayed there as a bubble she’d formed with her gum popped and then quickly disappeared.
Before Liadrin could respond, Valeera turned to head for the soda fountain.
It wasn’t the first time she’d gotten shit for being a cop. At least this time, it could possibly be construed as good-natured. Even mildly flirtatious. Liadrin didn’t mind. She hadn’t had much of a social life in...way too long. In fact, she’d only just begun noticing that other people even existed again.
“What are you having?” Valeera asked as she returned with the requested glass and placed it beside Liadrin’s hand.
“Two eggs over-easy and a side of fries. And, if you’ve got it, a slice of wheat toast.” Liadrin shut the menu that she hadn’t really even looked at and handed it over to Valeera before leaning back on the stool in a slightly more comfortable position. Not that anything was really all that comfortable with kevlar on under one’s shirt.
“Fries and eggs. Nice. Sorry we don’t do donuts.” The barb was softened by a timely wink and Liadrin couldn’t help the laugh the entire display resulted in.
Maybe she should go out more often. This wasn’t half bad, really. She got lost in her thoughts for a while - the sound of Valeera calling out her order muffled by both distraction and the door between them. She sipped her water while she waited, barely noticing as her head began to dip down towards the bar counter after a while before it jerked back up when there was suddenly a plate of food below her chin.
“Earth to Cop.” Valeera placed a napkin down beside Liadrin’s plate with silverware on it, glancing at her water quickly and then back to her. “You gonna make it? Passing out isn’t gonna get you out of the bill. Fair warning.”
Liadrin shook her head. “Sorry about that. S’been a long day. You can bring me the check, though, if you’re worried about me paying.”
Valeera took in the slightly darker skin beneath Liadrin’s eyes and the way her shoulders seemed almost painfully tense and leaned forward over the counter towards her. “Nah. Just take your time eating and try to wake up.” She reached out, then, threading her fingertips beneath the badge resting against Liadrin’s chest and lifting it so she could read it better. “Narcotics. Jeez. And a Lieutenant?” She rested the badge back down gently - an almost harsh counterpoint to her almost brash behaviour and way of talking.
“Guess you’re serious business. What’s your name, fries n’ eggs?” Valeera clasped her hands together as Liadrin unfolded her napkin and placed it over the immaculately pressed grey slacks she was wearing.
“Liadrin is fine.”
“Mm. Sure is.” Valeera slipped a fry from Liadrin’s plate as she stood upright again, popping it into her mouth as she walked to the other end of the counter to refill another patron’s coffee. Liadrin was still a little dumbstruck. She wasn’t entirely sure a woman had ever been this forward with her. There was nothing wrong with it, but…
“You let me know if you need anything else, yeah?” Valeera said as she passed back by her on her way towards the kitchen.
Liadrin just nodded before she finally began eating almost in a daze. She stayed alert enough to function, but that was about it. She barely even noticed the goings-on around her. Things were quiet, anyway. They usually were with a cop around. Even the drunks that filtered in now and again for a coffee or a waffle seemed inclined to behave themselves, and, once she was done eating - instead of taken her plate, Valeera rounded the corner and sat down next to her.
Liadrin didn’t look at her right away, but she could feel the woman’s eyes on her.
“I’m off.” Valeera explained as she leaned over and sat a little lidded foam to-go cup in front of her. “Coffee. Or you’re never gonna make it home, then you won’t come in anymore and give me the quietest night I’ve ever worked because everyone is scared shitless of a gun and a badge.”
Liadrin looked down at the cup that had been placed almost in her hand before lifting it to her lips and taking a sip of it. Black. But she liked it like that.
Her attention shifted then, finally, to Valeera. “And you aren’t?”
“Sometimes.” Valeera answered easily - not having to put any thought at all into what she was saying. Or choosing not to, anyway. “But these ones are attached to something awfully nice to look at.”
Well, there wasn’t really any misinterpreting that. And Liadrin found herself wishing she didn’t have an eight o’ clock meeting that she’d be running on four hours of sleep for the next morning, suddenly.
“What nights do you work?” She placed her debit card on the counter and the cook that had taken over operations came to gather it.
“Most of them. I only usually wind up with Tuesday nights off. I get called in a lot. Why?”
Liadrin shrugged and stood to reach for her jacket. “You have really good wheat toast here.” She responded dryly, placing a tip on the counter in front of her so no one else would wind up with it.
“Oh.” Valeera sighed - looking, for all intents and purposes, disappointed, though Liadrin was almost certain the look was feigned.
“And because I don’t mind pretty waitresses flirting with me. Thanks for the company. I needed it.” She retrieved her returned debit card from the countertop and nodded at the cook as Valeera watched her, waiting until the older man who was now sailing the ship on his own to shamble away towards a now-empty table that needed to be clean.
“I can be good company without the apron on, too.” Valeera finally replied, resting an arm over the back of the stool as Liadrin turned enough to look back at her.
“I'll keep that in mind.” Liadrin responded, her gaze lingering for just a moment before she pulled her keys from her jacket pocket and made her way out the door to her car. She sipped the coffee gingerly on her drive home - not wanting to drink so much as to have it keep her awake, but thankful for the fact that she was no longer half-dozing every few minutes.
Liadrin’s thoughts were tired and muddled as she slipped her shoulder rig off and hung it on the stand next to her closet, dropping her badge on the little shelf in the center of it and glancing at herself in the mirror. She really did look exhausted. That waitress had been a champ for hitting on her in this state. Once her shirt was unbuttoned and discarded in the hamper she sighed in relief as she began unstrapping her vest until it, too, was hanging on her uniform rack. She ran a hand along the tank top covering her stomach and then stretched languidly now that her movements were unhampered.
A long day, indeed. Her team had just ended a month-long investigation with four successful arrests that would put quite a damper on the local drug trade. For a week or so, tops. But that's how this job had always been. Like digging a hole in dry sand.
That thought left her a touch more melancholy than she might have liked as she picked her sweats up off the edge of her bed and stepped into them, not bothering to tie them any tighter. She just allowed them to hang from her hips as she wandered from her bedroom into the living room, her eyes coming to rest on a picture of Salandria on her shoulders that was placed on her mantle. She traced the little girl’s near-ecstatic grin - one that, even now, caused a smile to spread on her own lips - before she wandered into the kitchen.
Wine. Just a nice, relaxing glass of full-bodied red before bed. Liadrin uncorked the bottle that was already waiting for her on the counter and reached to one of her upper cabinets for a delicately-stemmed glass which she filled half-way and brought to her nose to smell as her free hand re-corked the rest and pushed the bottle further back onto the counter. In a daze, she tugged her blanket from one arm of her white, tufted sofa and half-collapsed into the corner of the plush, comfortable piece of furniture. Her book…. Liadrin’s eyes darted around until they landed on the mystery she'd been indulging in laying on her end table. Thank god. She'd been worrying she might have to get up in order to find it.
A couple pages and a few sips in, and suddenly it felt like a wonderful idea to stretch out along her couch beneath the throw she was nestled in - though even she knew better than to hold a glass of wine over white furniture, so that was set aside accordingly.
She read until her vision grew too blurry to see any longer then placed the book on the ottoman sitting in front of the couch. She didn't have the energy to go to bed, really. Nor did she necessarily have a reason to. There was no more Salandria to provide a normal, stable household for, and - after a year - she felt it might be safe to indulge somewhat. Perhaps in other areas, too. Maybe she would go back to that diner sooner, rather than later. Maybe she would let that pretty woman say more pretty things to her and enjoy her smirk and her snark a bit while she was at it...and see if she really was good company without the apron on.
But that was it. Nothing more. Liadrin didn't have the time for anything serious, and she wasn't sure if or when she would. But...some company? A heated, satiating night here and there? That, she could handle. She could more than handle. Even as much of a handful as Valeera seemed to be...she didn't seem too serious about it, either. She just seemed like...fun. Seemed like something that would be easy and straightforward to navigate. She hadn't been coming onto her due to their deep intellectual connection, after all. So that obviously wasn't what she was looking for, either.
Liadrin drifted off with thoughts of Valeera still on her mind. Thoughts of how nice it might be to work herself into exhaustion with a woman instead of over an investigation. It had been way, way too long.
Her alarm was too loud. Too incessant. She scrambled for it blearily with a groan and leaned over her own knees for a minute while she tried to stop her head spinning. Damn the department and their asscrack of dawn meetings. Literally straight to hell. She stumbled, half-asleep, towards the kitchen to start a pot of coffee before she noticed the cup from last night sitting on her kitchen island. Fuck it. It was cold, but it was decent, and the less effort she had to put into this morning, the better.
How she'd missed the phone number scribbled onto the side last night, she would never know. But she sure as hell saw it now. Along with the ‘text me’ written in surprisingly elegant handwriting considering the fact that it was pressed with ballpoint pen into styrofoam. Maybe Valeera had a lot of practice writing on cups. Maybe Liadrin added a new contact in her phone because she didn't really care if that was the case.
She needed something to look forward to. And that pretty waitress with trouble and mischief in her eyes and a smirk on her ruby red lips? Well, that was certainly something.
Chapter 2: Fries N' Eggs
Liadrin looked up at Lor’themar as she tossed her empty coffee cup in the trash near the doors of the meeting room. “You were just here for the same two hours I was, right?” She asked in a dry, tired tone.
“Hey, at least you get to go home. My shift is only just starting.”
Liadrin grumbled something unintelligible as they walked out into the mostly dark parking lot behind the department and she made her way towards her car.
“Aw, lighten up, Liadrin. Go home. Pour yourself some wine. Watch some...whatever it is that you watch. You seem like the True Crime type, am I right?”
Liadrin stopped dead in her tracks and stared at him for a moment before a low chuckle left her. “You’re such an ass, Lor.” She responded once the laughter died away. “I’ll have you know - I’m not going home. I’m going to eat first.”
“Oh?” He lifted a brow and leaned against the trunk of Liadrin’s car. “Who’s the lucky girl?”
“I’m going to taze you, Theron.”
“You never got certified. Nice try.” Lor’themar shot her a wink before he pushed himself off of her car. “But you really should get out more.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks, Wise One.”
“Any time.” Lor’themar tried his best to sound genuine, but Liadrin didn’t miss the smirk he wore as he walked away.
Liadrin had a lot on her mind on her drive to the diner. A whole hell of a lot. Mostly, though, she wondered if she’d read Valeera’s signals right. She wondered if she was a certified dick for the way she’d interpreted them. But, mostly, she just...wanted to let go for once. And every mile that took her closer to that little hole in the wall was letting go. Every street she didn’t turn down, instead.
So, when she walked in and Valeera was nowhere to be seen, she almost laughed at the irony. Oh, well. She was here. She was hungry. Might as well eat.
Tonight’s waitress walked over to her in a rather disinterested fashion, flipping her ticket book open and holding her pen over it. Liadrin waited for her to speak for a while before realizing that wasn’t going to happen. “Uh...eggs, over-easy. Order of wheat toast. Water to drink.”
“We’re out of wheat. You want white?” The woman asked as she lifted a brow at Liadrin expectantly.
Of course, they were out of wheat. “No, thanks. The eggs and fries will be fine.”
“Suit yourself.” Liadrin stared after the woman as she walked towards the kitchen and sighed as she leaned back in her chair. She very nearly lept from her skin as she felt a hand come to rest on her shoulder.
“Hey, Mrs. Officer. Hungry again? Didn’t you just eat a few days ago?”
Liadrin tilted her head to the side so faintly as the other woman touched the side of her neck upon her retreat, Valeera might have missed it if she hadn’t been looking for it.
At least that gave the opportunity for her to turn in her seat and look at her. In her leather jacket and tank-top with...fuck. No bra. Her eyes darted back up to Valeera’s as the young woman sat down on the stool next to her own and propped one of her feet up on the little bar that wrapped around the counter near the bottom. “Came to get my check. Who’s working? I mean, I should be the one to know, but damned if I don’t.”
“I don’t know their names, I’m afraid.” Liadrin responded, watching Valeera lean back in a rather bored fashion.
“Well, judging by the fact that you don’t have a drink yet - I think I know who it is.”
The rather irritated looking blonde woman peeked her head out of the kitchen and narrowed her eyes at Valeera immediately. “Gonna let your customer die of thirst, or you want me to go behind the counter and get her drink for you? If I get out of this stool without my check, I’m getting your tip, by the way.”
“Chill, Valeera. Jesus Christ. I’ll get her drink.” The woman grudgingly walked over with a glass of water with painfully few cubes of ice in it a moment later and Liadrin thanked her dryly before looking back over at Valeera.
“You didn’t ask for your check.” She pointed out as she let her water on the counter untouched. She hadn’t been particularly thirsty...the show Valeera had put on certainly had been entertaining, though.
“She already knows why I’m here. Finding you was a nice surprise, though. Get something to eat ordered already?”
Valeera smirked and looked over at her, glancing at how her forearms were exposed by the sleeves of her dress shirt being rolled up past her elbows along with the shoulder holster that couldn’t possibly have been more...alluring. She certainly painted a picture. “Let me guess, eggs and fries? And wheat toast?”
“They’re out of wheat toast.”
“That’s because the cook sucks at ordering. I’ve got some wheat bread at my apartment, though. For in the morning.”
There it was, then. Liadrin had most definitely been reading her right. “The morning?” She asked - her tone low as she cut her eyes to the side before hanging an arm over the back of her stool and turning to face her as she waited for an answer.
“I mean, you don’t have to stay. I’m not really the type that requires cuddles. You’re more than welcome to, though. For the toast.”
“Do you always take cops back to your apartment?” Liadrin asked after her food was placed in front of her and Calia had time to walk back into the kitchen, where she seemed to like to hide.
“Bring my check back out when you refill her water, Cal!” Valeera shouted before turning her attention to Liadrin’s question. “Not usually, no. Besides, I walked here. I was kinda hoping you would drive.”
Liadrin thought it all over for a moment as she salted and peppered her eggs. Thought about how she wasn’t usually this type of person. Thought about how she really didn’t know Valeera at all. Thought about how that might be just what she needed right now…
“Yeah. I’ll drive. Have you eaten tonight?”
“Worried about my energy levels, or are you genuinely concerned about my eating habits?” Valeera pulled off her jacket, then, and let it fall against the back of the stool. It was too damned hot in here for leather - as much as she enjoyed the aesthetic.
“I’m not worried about your energy levels. At the same time, it’d be nice if I didn’t have to call a squad for you because you passed out on me. It’d be a little awkward explaining why I don’t know anything about you.”
“I’m twenty-six. I don’t have any uh..medical alert things. No allergies. And I like it rough.”
Liadrin somehow managed to finish chewing her bite of eggs before she placed her fork down. “I don’t think the paramedics would find that last bit very relevant.”
“Mm. But do you?” There was a smirk on her face when Liadrin looked at her and slid her plate so it sat on the counter between them.
“Yeah. I do. Help me finish these fries so we can get out of here.”
The smirk became a grin before Valeera slipped a fry from Liadrin’s plate, not really paying much attention as Calia placed her check down on the counter as well as Liadrin’s bill.
“What if she wanted dessert, Calia?” Valeera asked - causing the waitress to pause and shoot her a look.
“She’s probably getting that elsewhere, right, Valeera?”
Calia seemed even more agitated that she hadn’t been able to get a rise out of Valeera, who just popped another fry into her mouth. They finished eating in silence. Liadrin left enough for their food and a tip on top of the bill and pulled her jacket on before reaching for Valeera’s and handing it to her.
“Ah, a gentleman lady cop. Nice.” Valeera muttered as she put it back on before following Liadrin out the door.
“Radios are off. Don’t flip any switches, though, please.” Liadrin requested quietly as they parted ways near the front of her car and both got in their respective sides.
“So you’re saying you want me to keep my hands to myself?” Valeera asked as she buckled her seatbelt, seeming a little more familiar with the inside of a police vehicle than most average citizens. Liadrin didn’t dwell on that realization, however. She just started her engine and pulled out of the parking lot.
“No. You can put your hands wherever you want - as long as anyone with a scanner doesn’t hear it. Where’s your place at?”
Valeera leaned back comfortably in her seat and reached over to run her fingertips along Liadrin’s jacket-clad arm. “Two blocks down, take a right. First apartment building on your left. Number 104. Why are you so tense?”
“Don’t stress it. It isn’t that serious. Just get me home and I’ll help you relax.” Valeera dropped her hand, then, to Liadrin’s thigh as the other woman nodded faintly and took the turn Valeera had directed her to. The way Valeera traced the seam of her pants up her inner thigh was almost maddening and the slight spread of her legs almost uncontrollable.
“There you go.” Valeera whispered, patting her thigh before brushing her fingertips along the zipper. Liadrin looked positively bothered. From the lowering of her ears that seemed so willful and controlled, Valeera knew it was forced - to the flush in her cheeks. By the time they pulled up outside her apartment, Liadrin was gripping the steering wheel forcefully as Valeera kneaded at her through her pants and leaned over the center console to whisper against her ear.
“You could fuck me right here, you know.”
Liadrin switched off the engine after slipping the shifter into park. “No. I most definitely will not be fucking you in here. But I would love to fuck you inside.”
Valeera smirked against her ear and pulled away slowly, though her hand lingered where it was until Liadrin finally made a move to unbuckle her seatbelt. Liadrin walked behind Valeera to her apartment door - looking around them carefully all the while. This wasn’t the best part of town. This wasn’t her most innocent interaction. Better to be safe than sorry.
“Hm.” Valeera murmured thoughtfully as she languidly flipped through the only three keys on her key ring. “Which one is it…”
“If you wouldn’t mind, I-”
“I’m just teasing you.” Valeera almost purred as she cast a glance at Liadrin over her shoulder and slid the appropriate key into the lock. “But I love how motivated you are. Bonus points.”
Valeera hadn’t been all that sure what Liadrin was going to be like behind closed doors. She seemed so withdrawn...so guarded. And, perhaps, she still was. Just not in the same way. As soon as the door shut, Valeera barely had time to place her keys on their hook before Liadrin moved to stand behind her and slowly pressed up against her back.
Valeera tilted her head to the side as she felt the other woman lean her own down so that her lips were almost touching the side of her neck. “You said you like it rough.” Liadrin murmured as she ran her hands along Valeera’s shoulders and down her arms. “How rough?”
“I haven’t found a stopping point, yet.” Valeera’s lips curled into a faint smile as her eyes fluttered open so she could see the other woman from the corner of her eye. “You’re welcome to try, though.” Valeera reached behind herself, then, and slid her fingertips along Liadrin’s belt, finding the small leather strap that connected her shoulder holster to it and unsnapping it easily. “Can I turn around, Mrs. Officer?”
“Not yet, no.” Liadrin breathed with a faint smile against the corner of her jaw. She allowed the holster to slide from her shoulders and placed it carefully on the floor next to the door then pulled Valeera’s jacket off slowly, piling it on top of the holster on the floor. “What will you do when I let you, exactly?”
Valeera found the warm feeling that had been smoldering within her blazing its way into her cheeks and ears when Liadrin’s hands returned to her, this time sliding around the front of her body and up, dragging the hem of her tank top along with it until she stopped their progress just beneath her breath. “Touch you.” She whispered, lifting a hand to rest against the door. “Get you out of those clothes. That vest.”
Liadrin let her fingertips trace the curve of the underside of Valeera’s breasts just barely before she trailed them down her ribs and released her, leaving her tank-top pulled up around her chest. “Turn around, then.”
Valeera wasn’t at all used to this. To not having the upper hand. To...wanting someone as much as they wanted her. She liked it more than she would have expected. “You’re a tease.” She murmured heatedly once she finally turned. Before she reached for the other woman, however, she pulled her top the rest of the way off and tossed it to the floor. “Do you like them?” Valeera’s voice was low and hot as Liadrin looked down at the jewelry glinting against the sides of her nipples.
“Mhmm.” Liadrin lifted her gaze, again, not at all ashamed of having looked. “Where’s the bedroom?”
Valeera glanced over her shoulder and nodded in the direction of a hallway off the corner of the small living area, but before Liadrin could turn, she grabbed her by the buckle of her belt and pulled her close again. “Nah-uh. I get to see you, too.”
Liadrin let out a slightly raspy, breathy laugh as Valeera pulled her jacket from her and went for the buttons of her dress shirt - undoing them one by one until the vest she wore beneath it was exposed. She pressed a palm against the firmness of it and leaned in slowly, brushing Liadrin’s cheek with the tip of her nose before she spoke. “Do you kiss? Do you like to?”
“Sometimes. Yeah.” It was Liadrin’s turn to have difficulty breathing, now, as Valeera’s fingertips found the velcro of her vest, pulling it apart and slowly removing it from her. Her eyes trailed over toned shoulders and over soft, delicate curves before they shifted back up again as she let the vest fall. “Kiss me while you fuck me, then.”
“Alright.” The response was simple. Loaded. Full of promise that Valeera suddenly didn’t doubt. Not one bit.
Certainly not when Liadrin turned and began walking towards the little hallway that led to the bedroom. It wasn’t much. A bed. A dresser. No mirror. Liadrin didn’t care. She just turned and grabbed Valeera by her arms, pulling her around in front of herself and sitting her on the edge of the mattress. “Stay.” She husked as she reached for the button of her jeans, tugging it apart and pulling them down along with her underwear. Valeera lifted her hips to make it easier. Faster. Anything to make this happen faster, goddamnit.
Liadrin’s eyes burned hungrily as they found the smooth, silky skin between Valeera’s legs - as the curled backs of her fingers brushed along it before she guided the younger woman’s arms around her neck and lifted her up the bed with her hands beneath her thighs.
She went for what she’d wanted since she’d first seen them - not bothering to kiss or nip her way there, just claiming one of Valeera’s pierced nipples with her mouth. Sucking hard at the jewelry as Valeera gasped sharply and arched her chest towards the attention. “Fuck.” Her voice was a whimper of surprise and enjoyment and when she reached for Liadrin’s hair, she found her hands pinned at her sides against the bed. She didn’t struggle. She didn’t complain. She just spread her legs and wrapped them around Liadrin’s waist, tightening them as she moved to her other breast and looked up at her. Their eyes met, then, as Liadrin parted her lips and let her warm breaths ghost over the quickly hardening nub.
The following moments were a show. That much was obvious as Liadrin’s tongue passed her lips and flicked over the glinting barbell, causing Valeera to jerk against the bed before a low, unintelligible murmur left her. The little smirk this drew from Liadrin just before she closed her lips around jewelry and nipple alike brought a lot, warm chuckle out of Valeera as she turned her wrists slightly in Liadrin’s grip.
“Pretty.” Valeera husked as some of Liadrin’s auburn hair fell from the messy bun she kept it in into her face. Just a little more undone. A little more unhinged. God, this was going to be fun.
“Fuck, so are you.” Liadrin whispered breathlessly as she released what she’d been playing with and moved lower - panting quietly along the center line of Valeera’s stomach. Further and further and Valeera allowed her legs to fall away. Liadrin didn’t touch her, though, aside from a slow, calculated bite to the soft, smooth skin she’d been admiring earlier. A bite that caused every inch of Valeera to shudder. One that didn’t sting. It was just...pressure. Infuriating pressure.
It didn’t let up until Liadrin released her wrists and threaded her arms beneath her thighs, her hands facing up and open. “Hands.” Liadrin murmured - looking up at Valeera from between her legs. As soon as Valeera relented, she wrapped her own around her wrists, then, instead - using the firm hold to pull her up onto her arms slightly. To expose her more fully.
Valeera didn’t have to wait much longer. No, she didn’t have to wait much longer, at all. Liadrin ran the heat of her tongue up her hot, over-sensitive slit - through the wetness and the sensitivity before she found her clit and stopped. Suddenly. Without warning. And it drew a frustrated groan from her along with a sharp glare.
Only then, did Liadrin lower her eyes and seek out Valeera’s clit again. Hungrily. Sharply. Just at the edge of something that might have made Valeera pull away. But she didn’t. She writhed in Liadrin’s hold as she felt the strength of her jaw helping her tongue work so firmly. She let grunts and groans fall, unhindered from her parted lips. There was no more teasing. Just Liadrin sucking relentlessly between her legs until she was shaking beneath her and digging her heels into the bed. “Let me go.” She panted, dragging a forceful breath into her lungs. “Fuck. Let…”
Liadrin did. And she groaned into Valeera’s clit as she felt hands tangling in and tugging at her hair sharply. Holding her so close she found it nearly impossible to breathe as her nose was pressed into that silky skin she had held between her teeth only a few moments before. That’s where Valeera kept it. Pressed so, so tightly to her - until she came. Twitching. Shaking. Whimpering.
But Liadrin didn’t let her rest. She moved up her body and tugged her arms from beneath her, one of her hands coming up to grip Valeera’s hair to pull her head so she would look into her eyes. Oh, she relished the slow, dazed grin that spread across the younger woman’s lips. “I want a taste.” Valeera panted - Liadrin’s lips so close to her own she could almost feel them.
“Do you?” Liadrin husked - touching their lips together lightly before pulling back as Valeera’s hands stroked up her strong, slender sides.
Liadrin continued her game. She left Valeera aching for her mouth. For the warmth of her lips and the taste of herself on them.
Valeera followed her. Or tried to, anyway...but always found her head drawn back to the bed. She noted Liadrin had gripped enough of her hair that it didn’t hurt...yet gave her absolute control. Perfect. Fuck.
But not as perfect as the hand that moved down between her legs and gathered her wetness along its fingertips. Not as perfect as the painfully sweet stretch of three of them entering her at once.
“While I’m fucking you, remember?” Liadrin finally whispered - her hold on Valeera’s hair gradually loosening until she was free. In the same instant, movement wasn’t much of an option anymore. Liadrin was buried in her. Curling her fingers slowly. Watching her so closely it only deepened the flush in her cheeks.
It wasn’t until she started moving that she finally ghosted their lips together again. Valeera was hungry for it. Her teeth scraped against Liadrin’s lips. Pinched them between her own. Bruised them. Liadrin drew in a sharp breath through her nostrils as she felt Valeera’s tongue seeking her own and, the instant she did, Liadrin drew her fingers out almost entirely before pressing them back in.
Valeera moaned into her mouth and slid her arms around Liadrin’s back tightly. It was Valeera, in fact, that broke the kiss. That tugged Liadrin’s head down so her face was in the crook of her neck as she pressed their cheeks together. “Harder.” She gasped into her ear, feeling the bunching of the muscles in Liadrin’s shoulder in response. “Fuck me.” She gritted her teeth, then, and dug her nails into the skin her fingertips were already leaving impressions against.
Liadrin was breathing almost raggedly against her neck...from arousal more than anything else, as she lifted her own hips and harsh, wet sounds replaced their quiet panting. Sounds that were soon joined by sharp, breathy noises against Liadrin’s ear. Some of them might have even been attempts at her name. Liadrin felt one of Valeera’s hands between them a moment later. Felt it pause. She was so overwhelmed it had taken almost all the coordination she had left just to move one hand from Liadrin’s back.
That was fine. Liadrin would do it for her. She propped herself with her forehead against Valeera’s shoulder long enough to reach down and shove Valeera’s hand lower - holding her wrist until the younger woman found her own clit. She didn’t need any more help, then, and Liadrin reached back up, holding onto the headboard of the bed so she could look down between them as her fingers slammed into her relentlessly while Valeera worked at her own clit.
“Let me see you come.” Her voice was low, breathless and raspy, now. “Come for me, Valeera. I’m not asking.”
The younger woman’s eyes opened, then. Her gaze was fire and brimstone and lust and defiance and acceptance and...then she was gone. Tense. Lifting from the bed without meaning to. Lips parted for sounds that never came.
Liadrin didn’t stop until Valeera collapsed, brows furrowed and her head turned to the side as her hand stilled and went limp between them. Liadrin finally slipped her fingers free once she was sure she wouldn’t forget the way Valeera tightened around them. She finally moved to sit beside her, then, and Valeera looked up at her lazily. She reached out and stroked over her chest - the redness of her skin and the muscles in her shoulders that were still taut with effort.
“So…” Valeera swallowed, then, in an attempt to get her voice to cooperate with her. “You the type that...that doesn’t want…”
“What?” Liadrin asked as Valeera found one of her nipples and stroked slow circles around it with her fingertip. “If you’re asking if I want you to touch me, yeah. I do. Or I’ll take care of myself if you don’t.”
Valeera smiled. An actual smile, instead of a smirk. “Refreshing to sleep with someone who doesn’t mind telling me what they want. And what is it, exactly, that you want? My fingers? My mouth? Both?”
“Your fingers will be just fine.” It was Liadrin’s turn to grin, then, as Valeera suddenly shoved her by her shoulder onto her back and reached for the buckle of her belt as she moved to straddle her. Liadrin hissed quietly and stroked up Valeera’s thighs at the strong, rough tugging at her pants once the belt buckle jingled out of the way.
“You know how I like it and I don’t know how you like it.” Valeera whispered as she leaned over the other woman and pressed her hand into her pants between them. “That’s a shame.”
“I don’t give a fuck how you do it. Just make me come.”
“Mmm. Yes, ma’am.” Valeera murmured with a smirk as she sank a finger into her and immediately pressed the heel of her palm against her clit.
Liadrin reached between them with a gasp and wrapped a hand round Valeera’s arm firmly, though high enough that it wouldn’t stop her. Valeera looked down and then leaned in to nip at the lobe of one of the other woman’s ears. “You’re so sensitive.” She whispered against it, her eyes shut, now, and her breathing still heavy. “You feel real good.”
The moan that came from Liadrin, then, was something she couldn’t have hoped to contain as Valeera began shifting her palm in hard circles while a second finger joined the first, curling and thrusting slowly. “Do you like that?” She asked, then, biting against her cheek and releasing a hot, slow breath against her jaw. “Do you like knowing how good you feel?”
Liadrin’s hands shot to the sheets and gripped them so strongly the material began to give way against her fingertips. She nodded. There wasn’t much else she could do right then.
“Has it been a long time, baby?” Valeera cooed against her neck when her face fell against it. “It’s alright. You can come whenever you need to. You feel so good. You fucked me so good.” A series of choked whimpers stuck in Liadrin’s throat - though the remnants of them sent a thrill up Valeera’s spine. “That’s it.” She coaxed before placing a single, lingering kiss against Liadrin’s throat as she finally let go.
Valeera gave her another moment or two of closeness. Another moment or two of gentle, rhythmic thrusting, before she slowly sat up on her hips and wiped her fingers on her own thigh. “Fuck.” She whispered, having to lean back over, again, with a hand on Liadrin’s hip.
Liadrin nodded as she licked her lips to wet them. “Y...yeah.” She touched Valeera lightly as she moved off of her and plopped down on the bed beside her. Usually, she didn’t allow herself to be so unaware for so long. Tonight, though...she let herself lay beside Valeera in a daze as she felt the younger woman moving around beside her. Until she heard the clicking of a lighter and opened her eyes slowly. She wouldn’t have minded a hit from a cigarette right n…
She stared in disbelief as Valeera cocked an eyebrow and looked down at her, still holding in the hit she’d taken from the bowl she was holding. “What?” She asked when she finally exhaled.
“You...you can’t just...do drugs in front of me, what the fuck? Valeera, I’m a cop.”
Valeera pursed her lips then snorted quietly. “Relax. It’s not drugs. It’s weed. You want some water?”
Liadrin narrowed her eyes for a moment, watching as Valeera took another hit and then tamped out the bowl before exhaling. Finally, though, she sighed and shook her head. “Yeah. I could really use some water, actually.”
“Great. Don’t flush my stash while I’m gone. That’d be a real dick move, all things considered.”
“Don’t tell me you have a fucking stash what the fuck!” Liadrin groaned as she lifted her hands to rub across her own face and into her hair. Damn, this woman was hilarious. Infuriating...and hilarious.
She managed to relax again, though, by the time Valeera walked through the doorway tossing a bottle of water in the air and catching it. ...And holding something shiny in her other hand. Liadrin sat up and took the bottle from her as Valeera moved to lay beside her, propped up against the wall behind them. Liadrin sipped slowly at the water she’d been given - watching as Valeera unwrapped the yellow straw that had been stuck to the back of the foil packet she’d been holding.
“Is...is that a Capri Sun?”
“Uhhuh.” Valeera muttered, clearly rather engrossed in her task. She sighed and let her head fall back against the wall - a little yellow straw in one hand with a ruined, smooshed tip, and a still unopened Capri Sun in the other.
Liadrin almost laughed. Almost. Instead, she put the cap back on her water bottle and reached for the packet then straightened the straw back out carefully, brows furrowed as she worked on it until it was at least useable. She then pushed it into its little hole rather easily and handed it back over and Valeera took it from her, staring down at it for a moment before she looked over at Liadrin. “...Thank you.” She murmured, almost as though she was uncomfortable before she began sipping it. “So...you leavin’?”
Liadrin took another drink of her water before leaning over the side of the bed and sitting it on the floor. “Without my toast?” Liadrin asked as she moved over a bit and began getting under the rather thin blanket that covered the bed.
“Oh, uh...did...did you want it now?” Valeera looked ready to get out of bed, then. She’d even sat her drink down on her little end table.
Liadrin reached over and pulled the blankets down on Valeera’s side when the younger woman stood. “Mm-mm. Morning. No toast tonight. I’ll leave after toast.”
“Guess I should go get some wheat bread then.” Valeera muttered, though she was already moving under the covers, herself.
Liadrin looked over at her after turning onto her stomach and pulling the spare pillow beneath her head. “You lied to me about the toast?”
Valeera made a soft, amused noise and turned onto her side - facing away from Liadrin and shaking her head. “Nah. I’ll make you toast in the morning, Fries n’ Eggs. Promise.”
Chapter 3: Ham And Pineapple
Casual. This was supposed to be casual. That meant not thinking about her almost constantly.
Liadrin was just...doing a very poor job of that. Maybe another night would settle things down. Help her think a bit more clearly.
At least, that’s what she told herself as she unbuckled her seatbelt and slid out of her car. ‘Long shift’ didn’t even begin to describe the day she’d had. Even the steps leading up to the diner doors were a little difficult on her. She’d had to make a bust earlier...or tried to, anyway. Two against one never went very well, though, and the bastards had given her a hell of a time before her backup showed. She had the bruises and the strains beneath her clothing to prove it.
She needed...a good night. That’s all she needed and she knew she could have one with Valeera.
“What’ll it be?”
Liadrin looked up at the cook as she began to remove her jacket. “Ah...Let me look over the menu for a bit and I’ll let you know. Is Valeera working tonight?”
He snorted his irritation and glanced over his shoulder as Calia came through the swinging doors behind him. “No.” He finally responded as he turned his attention back to Liadrin. “She didn’t make it in.”
“Didn’t make it in.” Calia repeated with a roll of her eyes. “He means she got locked up again. Don’t you guys know stuff like this?”
Liadrin felt her heart drop into the pit of her stomach as her scalp began to tingle. Outwardly, though, she seemed unbothered.
“Calia, put a sock in it. She ain’t your problem. You got three dirty tables out there and not a one of ‘em is cleaning itself.” The cook glared daggers at her until she sighed and grabbed a rag to head for the booths he’d been referencing.
“Anyway, sorry, lady. Like I said - she ain’t here. She usually calls if she knows she’s gonna be...away. Must’ve caught her off guard this time. Guess you won’t be needing anything?”
Usually calls… God. Fuck. What had she gotten herself into?
“No, I’m...I’m alright. Thanks.” Liadrin pulled her jacket back on quickly and made a beeline for the door only to sit in silence once she was back in the haven of her car. Away from the bright lights and the noise of their buzzing. Somehow, amidst her racing thoughts of Valeera and the implications of what she’d just discovered, she wondered how the other woman worked somewhere with so many fluorescent bulbs. They must have been deafening.
Jail, Liadrin. She’s in fucking Jail.
She slammed her palms into her steering wheel before letting her forehead fall forward to rest against it as her stiff shoulders heaved with the release of a heavy sigh.
Walk away. All she had to do was walk away. Forget that night. Forget the fucking toast. The Capri Sun. All of it. Push it into the recesses of her mind until it was gone forever.
When she turned out of the diner parking lot, though, she found herself heading for County lock-up instead of home.
The sight of the woman behind the glass in intake almost made her turn right back around. Unfortunately, she’d already been spotted.
“Lieutenant.” The voice grated like rocks through the sound hole as Liadrin came to a stop in front of it and stared through it at the aging Night Elf.
“Shadowsong.” Liadrin’s voice was flat and dry. They’d just...never really gotten along. The older woman seemed so focused on the world she lived in that she didn’t even have time to make conversation. “I need you to check a name to see if bail has been set.”
Maiev turned toward the screen of her computer and began typing without responding. When she lifted a brow and looked up at Liadrin, she nearly panicked.
“Valeera. The name is Valeera.” For fucks’ sake, she didn’t know her last name. Jesus Christ, what was she even doing?
“Last name? You’ve been working too hard. You’ve forgotten how this even works.” Maiev waited. Waited for a response that never came.
“I...don’t know her last name. Just look her up by the first.” Liadrin’s expression tightened slightly, then. Maiev was good at keeping people on the defensive. Even officers. She always had been. She seemed to be in a more giving night tonight than usual, though, because she turned back to her screen and her keyboard - typing away for a moment or two.
“Bail is a thousand.”
“And nobody’s gotten her out? What’s the charge?” Liadrin responded - seemingly unbothered by the price tag. It couldn’t be that serious if the bail was that low.
“Probation violation. City court’s not until next Thursday. She’ll be sitting for a while. Do you know her, or something?” Maiev asked with a slight narrow of her eyes and then leaned back in her chair. It was clear if Liadrin wanted to know anything more she’d have to do the digging herself.
Liadrin cleared her throat and pulled her wallet from the back pocket of her slacks, producing her debit card and sliding it under the slot in the glass. “You. I know her. Run it.”
Maiev snorted as she retrieved the card. It had been barely audible...but Liadrin had heard it, just the same.
Once the paperwork that needed signing was taken care of, Maiev disappeared without another word. She was gone long enough that Liadrin had almost begun to nod off as she leaned against the little counter in front of the intake window. Long enough that the door nearby opening and the loud metal clang that came, as a result, were enough to cause her to jump.
“This yours?” Maiev asked as Liadrin stood straight and her eyes landed on Valeera. The woman looked worn. Exhausted, really. All the things that hadn’t been there in the diner...in her bed...especially the worry that edged her expression.
Liadrin thought about making a smart remark. She thought about saying something that might put some distance between her and Valeera. She just couldn’t bring herself to.
With a nod, Maiev handed Valeera her little bag of belongings and disappeared back through the door, leaving them alone with each other.
“Why’d you do that?” Valeera was the first to speak. Her voice was a little raspy. A little rough. Like the rest of her.
“When did they pick you up?” Liadrin didn’t have an answer for Valeera’s question. Or...maybe she didn’t want to have an answer.
“Three days ago.” Valeera shifted where she stood and finally lifted her eyes to meet Liadrin’s. Yeah. She was tired.
“It’s cold out tonight.” Liadrin responded as she slipped her jacket off and wrapped it around Valeera’s shoulders. “I’ll get you home.”
Valeera followed her outside silently. She rode next to her silently, too. For a time. It didn’t last, though. “Don’t know why you thought you had to do that.”
Liadrin glanced over at Valeera from the driver’s seat before returning her attention back to the road. “Me, either. I just wanted to see you tonight and I went to the diner and...well, you weren’t there.”
“Mm, and I bet Calia ran her mouth about it, too.” Valeera mumbled in response before leaning over enough that she could rest a hand along Liadrin’s thigh. It stayed there for a moment, before shifting higher. The touch seemed like a mix between hesitant and forced and Liadrin frowned as she looked down at Valeera’s hand - and then, at the way the younger woman was staring straight ahead. Looking anywhere but at her.
“What are you doing?” Liadrin asked quietly. She could have guessed. She’d been in this line of work long enough - had gathered enough context clues about Valeera, now, that she could have guessed rather easily, really.
“You said you wanted to see me tonight. I don’t have the money to pay you back. You’ve gotta know that. You don’t have to tell me why you did it.”
Liadrin reached down almost instantly and removed Valeera’s hand from her thigh - only releasing it when it was back on Valeera’s side of the car. “I said I didn’t know why and I meant it. But I can tell you I damn sure didn’t do it because I wanted anything from you. All I want is you showing up at your court date next week so I can get my money back. You don’t owe me anything.”
If Liadrin hadn’t been looking straight ahead she might have seen the way Valeera’s ears drooped and her cheeks darkened before she turned her head to stare out the passenger side window. “You don’t have to pretend to be so noble.” Valeera muttered as she continued to ignore the burning in her eyes.
“I never pretend to be anything at all. I just didn’t bail you out of jail to fuck you, that’s all. I bailed you out of jail to get you home. It’s as simple as that.”
Valeera could only pull Liadrin’s jacket around herself more tightly in response. It really was cold out tonight. And for some reason, the heater in the car just didn’t quite seem to help. She didn’t lift her head from the glass of the window until they pulled up in front of her apartment building.
“This is my stop, I guess.” Valeera said as she reached for the handle of the door. She paused, though, when Liadrin shut off the engine of her car and got out before she’d even opened her own door.
By the time she was standing outside the car, Liadrin was waiting for her at the front of it. “What’s up?” Valeera asked her as she dug through the bag she’d been given at the jail to find her house key.
“I’m making sure you’re good. Making sure you eat and don’t need anything.” Liadrin’s voice was even and strangely stern. A voice even Valeera found it difficult to argue with considering how tired she was.
“Whatever you say.” Valeera walked past her, then, and once they were inside - Liadrin watched her half-jog over to the corner of her living room where a small fish tank was bubbling away. Valeera hadn’t even bothered to shut the door back, first. She was too busy hurriedly opening the little container of food that had been sitting atop the tank and sprinkling some into it for him.
Liadrin found the light switch for the living room on her way over, though she stopped a few steps away as Valeera put the cap back on her fish food. Awkward. This was awkward.
“What’s his name?” Liadrin finally asked.
“I’ll tell you his name if you tell me why you’re walking like you’re eighty years old.” Valeera turned to face the other woman and began removing her borrowed jacket.
“Hard arrest earlier. Got a little roughed up. It isn’t a big deal. I’d rather know the fish’s name than talk about it.”
Valeera couldn’t remember the last time someone would rather talk about her...or even her fish than themselves. It was strange. It was strange, and it made her feel strange. “Sponge.”
Liadrin smiled - a tired smile, but a genuine one all the same - and looked past Valeera at the little betta who was happily pecking away at the tiny pellets floating along the surface of the water the tank was filled with. “Cute.”
“...Thanks. What...what exactly did you think we were going to do tonight in as bad a shape as you’re in?”
“Good question.” Liadrin responded, moving past Valeera towards her kitchen to open the fridge. Empty. Except for one errant Capri Sun. She sighed and reached for it as she heard Valeera moving around behind her. No doubt straightening up. Maybe just trying to find something normal to do.
“Here you go.” Liadrin walked back over to her and passed her the drink. “Saw already safely inserted. If you want to shower, I’ll figure out dinner. Does that sound alright?”
Valeera was still looking at the foil pouch in her hand, brushing the little yellow straw with her thumb for a moment until she nodded. She paused, though, - right in front of Liadrin. Lifted a hand to stroke her chest...pressed a kiss to her cheek. Then she was gone.
Liadrin didn’t really move until she heard the water of the shower running on the other side of the apartment. Only then, did she lift her hand and touch the place where Valeera’s lips had been. The following moments were a scramble, yet no matter where she looked - aside from a molded loaf of wheat bread and a few cans of food that would never make a decent meal. Oh, well. Liadrin knew the number to Pizza Hut by heart. Salandria’s favorite dinner.
She’d made it all the way to giving the order taker Valeera’s address before she realized she had no idea what the other woman would even want on a pizza.
“Just...just gimme a sec, let me ask what she wants.”
The irritation in the tone of the voice that answered her caused her to hurry through Valeera’s bedroom towards the bathroom. “Hey, Valeera?”
“Come in.” She reached for the handle and pushed the door open just in time to see Valeera turning off the water and pushing the curtain aside. Fuck. Fuck, fuck…
“Ma’am?” Liadrin looked down at her cell and lifted it back to her ear quickly.
“Yeah, sorry. Just a sec.”
When she looked back up at Valeera she wasn’t exactly surprised to see the smirk she was wearing as she reached for a towel. “You act like you’ve never seen me naked before.”
“What do you want on your pizza?” Liadrin was glaring daggers at her.
“Ham and pineapple.” The answer came with a wink. Valeera still hadn’t done anything to cover herself up. Instead, she’d already begun drying her hair.
“A medium ham and pineapple. Throw in an order of breadsticks. Uh...cash. Cash is fine.”
Liadrin slipped her phone into her pocket and sighed, turning away from Valeera towards the door. She didn’t make it far before she felt a hand on her arm.
“Where are you going?”
Liadrin looked over her shoulder. She was almost relieved to see Valeera’s towel wrapped around her, now. “To let you get dressed.” Liadrin’s voice was softer than it had been, now, as Valeera guided her hand up towards her face.
“I can get dressed in a minute.” Valeera left Liadrin’s hand on herself and then reached for her shirt, unbuttoning the first few buttons and tracing the straps of her vest.
She didn’t stop, though. She didn’t stop until she was pulling the shirt down Liadrin’s shoulders and saw the first bruise. A bruise she traced the outline of slowly. By the time she had the shirt off and resting on the counter, her brow was furrowed and Liadrin wasn’t looking at her, anymore. Instead, she looked past her - at the far wall of the bathroom.
“I hope you gave them hell, Mrs. Officer.” Valeera whispered. “Get out of that vest. I’ll find you a softer shirt.”
The tables had turned so quickly, there was little Liadrin could do but comply. She undid the various straps holding it on and left it on the counter with her shirt before moving to the bedroom where Valeera was rummaging in her closet.
She was stiff, yeah. But she didn’t realize just how bad it was until she tried to reach behind her own back for the clasps of her bra and let out a quiet, frustrated huff that drew Valeera’s attention.
“Shit…” Valeera whispered as she turned around and walked over to her, turning her around to find the clasp and release it for her. “I really don’t know what you thought you were going to do tonight. I really don’t.” Valeera could see how whatever tussle Liadrin had been involved in earlier had caused her vest to dig into her skin and bruise it cruelly. Under her arms, along her sides. And she could almost see how tense her muscles were. “Here.” She turned her back around, then, and helped her into the soft cotton shirt she’d found.
Valeera barely knew this woman. She’d spent one night with this woman. Yet the marks all over her were infuriating to Valeera. Even three days after she’d just gotten arrested, herself.
“Probably wouldn’t have been as good as the first night.” Liadrin joked weakly. “Valeera...what are you on probation for?” Liadrin could have looked that up. She could’ve looked it up any time she’d wanted to, and they both knew it.
“Drugs.” Valeera responded without hesitation.
“Weed, or what?” Liadrin toyed idly with the edge of Valeera’s towel as she spoke, but a movement of Valeera’s arms caught her attention soon, instead. She reached down to gather Valeera’s wrist in her hand and traced the lines with her fingertips that followed the pattern of veins beneath the pale skin of the younger woman’s forearm. Liadrin nodded faintly. She’d seen enough track marks to know what they meant. She also knew these were healed, though she couldn’t really tell how long. A while, though. They weren’t fresh.
“You can go, you know.” Valeera pulled her arm away slowly as she spoke and made her way back to the closet - discarding her towel on the floor so she could pull on a pair of sweats and a shirt.
Liadrin turned and wore an unreadable expression as Valeera tied the tie of her pants to keep them up around her hips. “Six months and I miss one meeting and they light my ass up. Like they don’t want me to try. Like they don’t want me to get out of it.”
Oh, she really should go. She really should leave this mess behind her...write that thousand dollars off and be done with it. “I’ll stay if you don’t have any plans.”
Valeera seemed more surprised by this than anything else. “Yeah...alright. If that’s what you want.”
“And what do you want, Valeera?” Liadrin asked as she headed back towards the living room to plop down on the old, worn-in couch there - only to find herself joined by Valeera soon thereafter. “Pineapple and ham pizza. Maybe some company. I’m easy.”
“Yeah?” Liadrin smiled a little. Just a little - as she looked over at the younger woman while she dug for her remote control between her couch cushions.
“Yeah.” Valeera began flipping through the channels as she leaned her shoulder against Liadrin’s. “‘Least I didn’t come back to my TV gone this time. Tv, Capri Sun, Sponge, and a hot cop. My lucky day. They got my weed, though.”
“That’s a shame.” Liadrin muttered as she leaned back further into the cushions with a quiet groan.
“I’m devastated, honestly.”
“Oh, yeah. I bet. Same.” Liadrin murmured with a playful, albeit weak smile.
“Fuck you, man.” But Valeera was smiling, too. Just a little. Just enough.
“Not tonight. I’m tired.” Liadrin glanced down as Valeera rested her head against her shoulder.
“Pizza and sleep sounds good, too, though.” Valeera admitted quietly as she settled on late night cartoons.
Fuck. That did sound good. Really good.
Chapter 4: No Real Saints, No Real Sinners
“Hard stuff?” Valeera responded in a whisper, tilting her head to the side as Liadrin nibbled her ear. “Since I was seventeen. Started drinking in...I dunno, fifth grade or something and it all went downhill from there. I been clean, though. Really clean. For six whole months.”
Liadrin nodded and reached up to pull Valeera’s hair to the side, draping it over the front of her shoulder so she could trail a line of kisses towards the back of her neck. “That’s a long time, sweet girl.” Liadrin murmured as Valeera’s eyes fluttered shut. “You can call me. Any time you need a ride to a meeting. Any time you need a ride at all. We’ll make sure you don’t miss another one, I promise.”
Casual wasn’t really the best word to describe their relationship any longer. No, since Valeera had gotten out of jail - most of Liadrin’s free time was spent with her. Her fridge had food in it, now. Plenty of Capri Suns, of course. But real food, too. They’d even taken her back on at the diner.
Liadrin loved these mornings, truth be told. She loved the feeling of Valeera leaning back against her in bed - the new sun warming their bare skin through the bedroom window. She loved the feeling of being needed, again. And Valeera? Well, having someone to believe in...and having that person believe in her was making all the difference in the world.
Liadrin chuckled softly as Valeera found her hand on her stomach and pulled it lower with a smirk. “I thought we were going to sleep.” Liadrin whispered as her fingertips traced along the soft, smooth skin between Valeera’s legs - legs that spread to drape on either side of each of her own.
“Mmh. Soon, Officer Night Owl.” Valeera whispered. “Unlike you, I didn’t work all night. I need a little help getting sleepy.”
“You worked hard last night.” Liadrin corrected - her low, husky voice caressing Valeera’s ear in a way that made the younger woman murmur her appreciation.
“Not as hard as you. I’m still sore.” Valeera replied as her back arched away from Liadrin’s chest slightly as one of her fingers teased at her.
“I’m sorry.” Liadrin’s voice was against the back of her jaw, now, instead of her ear.
“You aren’t. And I love that.”
Liadrin chuckled warmly at that, but it faded as she slowly started to circle Valeera’s clit beneath the sheets that covered her lap and the younger woman tensed faintly in her arms. “S’that feel good?” Liadrin asked quietly as Valeera gripped her forearm, nodding her response and reaching down with her free hand to push the sheets away so she could see what Liadrin was doing.
“Pretty, isn’t it?” Liadrin’s voice was a whisper as she looked down the front of Valeera’s body over her shoulder. They both watched as her fingertips slid lower and two of them dipped into her. Just barely. Just enough to remind Valeera of the slowly dulling ache there and to gather some of the wetness.
It was. But Liadrin didn’t need Valeera’s answer to know that, and Valeera was too busy watching the older woman play her like a violin to respond. Her nails began to dig into the flexing muscles of Liadrin’s forearm after a while - her breath began to hitch. Her thighs began to tremble.
Liadrin, meanwhile, began to trace gentle touches along her stomach as she mouthed wetly at the side of her neck - providing Valeera with a few quiet moans against her skin while she was at it. Soon, though, Valeera’s hands flew to grip Liadrin’s knees as her hips raised off the bed and she threw her head back against the other woman’s shoulder.
“That’s it.” Liadrin whispered, slowing her fingertips until Valeera sank back down. Only then, did she pull them away.
“Mm, nice. Thank you.” Valeera murmured as she lifted herself from Liadrin’s lap and moved to lay down with her legs tangled in the sheets.
“Tired enough to sleep, now?” Liadrin asked as she, too, shifted to lay down - albeit a bit more stiffly than Valeera had, which earned her an unfamiliar glance and the briefest glimpse of concern from the younger woman before it was gone.
“Yeah. I could nap. You can lay closer to me, you know. If that’s your thing.”
Liadrin wondered as she shifted nearer if, maybe, it was actually Valeera’s thing. She didn’t mind, though. Especially not when - a few minutes after her eyes slipped shut - she felt a gentle hand in her hair, stroking through it idly and along her scalp. Sleep came quickly after that.
Liadrin started awake and looked around Valeera’s bedroom in confusion before her eyes landed on Valeera, who was standing next to the bed with a plate in her hand.
She groaned quietly and ran a hand over her face as she sat up and allowed the blankets to fall away from herself.
“Mm, what’s that?” Liadrin asked groggily as she leaned back against the wall and Valeera placed the plate with what looked like a massive burrito on it.
“It’s a Hot Cheeto burrito.” Valeera responded, glancing down at it for a moment before she crawled into bed and handed half of it to Liadrin. She was already eating her half while Liadrin still inspected it carefully.
“So...it’s a burrito. With Cheetos in it?” Liadrin asked as she furrowed her brows at it - holding it up so she could get a better look.
“Yeah.” Valeera replied rather matter-of-factly after swallowing the bite she’d been working on. “You got me all those groceries, the least I can do is cook you something.”
“I don’t remember buying you Hot Cheetos.”
“I bought those. They’re my favorite. Do...do you want me to make something else?” Valeera looked as though it had only just occured to her that someone wouldn’t like what she considered to be this country’s crowning culinary achievement.
“No, no. Not at all.” Liadrin responded with a faint smile. “Thank you.”
Valeera looked away, then, not really knowing what to do with that, either. “Yeah, no problem.”
Liadrin wasn’t sure. Even three bites in - she still wasn’t sure. By the time she’d managed half of it, though, she’d started to see the appeal. She found herself envying Valeera’s metabolism, though, as the other woman finished her half off entirely and took the plate from her to carry it into the kitchen.
In response to the sound of what seemed to be kitchen-cleaning, Liadrin managed to pull herself out of bed once she’d eaten her half of Valeera’s concoction. It took her a minute to differentiate her clothing from Valeera’s on the floor, but once she had - she wandered to where Valeera was working away at wiping off the stove.
“Messy cooker?” She asked as she leaned onto the counter and reached out to give the hem of Valeera’s shirt a gentle tug.
“Messy everything.” Valeera responded with a smirk.
Liadrin’s smile was a little different than usual when Valeera noticed it out of the corner of her eye. A little softer. A little more...meaningful, maybe.
“When do you go in tonight?” Valeera asked, avoiding that look altogether. For now.
“I’m off tonight. I was thinking you might want to go do something. Maybe go pick up a few things for your apartment, or...I don’t know. Maybe just do something normal, for a change.”
Valeera tossed the paper towel she’d been using into the can beside Liadrin and walked past her towards the couch nearby with an unreadable expression on her face. “You don’t want this.”
Liadrin’s face fell. She turned to watch Valeera plop down lengthwise onto the couch and did her best to collect herself. “Want what, exactly?” She asked carefully as she rounded the couch and slowly knelt down in front of it so she was eye level with the younger woman.
“Any of this. Me. Me, especially.” Valeera wouldn’t look at her. It was all she could do, really, to have the strength to even say this - much less respond to what she was terrified to find in the older woman’s eyes.
“I didn’t think so, either, when I met you.” Liadrin reached out and rested a hand on Valeera’s thigh, stroking over it slowly. “I really didn’t. I wanted something easy. Without the strings. Without the feelings.”
Valeera gradually, carefully shifted the green glow of her gaze to Liadrin’s. Even the other woman’s eyes spoke volumes about the difference between them. Everything about her did, really. But that gold, especially. Such a contrast to the almost venomous-looking green of her own. “I’m gonna fuck you over. You know that, right?” She asked quietly. “You’re a cop. I’m a fucking addict. I always will be - no matter how long I stay clean.”
Liadrin shook her head and reached for one of Valeera’s hands to pull it close to herself. “Let me help you.” She murmured as Valeera measured everything about her. Her intent, her tone. Everything. She looked into the very core of her being when she spoke, and Liadrin didn’t care. “I know I’m a cop. Trust me, I know. But all you have to do is stay out of trouble and I’ll be fine. I can help you do that if you’ll let me.”
Valeera sighed and began toying with the lengths of Liadrin’s fingers - lowering her gaze to look at them thoughtfully. “I can’t promise you I won’t get in trouble. That’s the thing. I can’t promise you that...that this is the time I kick it for good. You gotta know that, too. You been around long enough. I don’t want to make a promise that I can’t keep. That isn’t who I am.”
“I’m not asking for a promise.” Liadrin responded without hesitation. “I know all of these things. Believe me. But what you’re trying to do? It’s so much harder to do it alone. I can’t help...fuck. I can’t help that this became something more for me than I intended it to be, Valeera.”
“Yeah.” Valeera remarked dryly. “Neither can I. Sucks, doesn’t it?”
Liadrin was silent for a moment. Just long enough for Valeera to look back up at her in time to feel Liadrin’s lips pressing against her own. Gently. And then pulling away to hover there as she spoke. “It doesn’t have to.”
“Mmm. We’ll see.” Valeera murmured, looking up at Liadrin’s mess of hair and then reaching up to begin fixing it for her. “Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. I know I’m fucked up. Been this way all my life.”
“Is it easier?” Liadrin asked as she shifted to sit on the floor in front of the couch so Valeera would have an easier time getting to her hair. “When you’re with me, is it easier?”
“Sometimes.” She was honest. She was always honest. To a fault, really. Valeera would be the first to tell you she wasn’t worth shit. That she never would be. Because to her, that was the truth. “Sometimes you come over and I’ve had a real hard day. Really struggled. And the only thing that helps me is you. Usually it’s sex. Especially in the beginning, god. It was absolutely the sex. But I know you know you’re good. Now - sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s just dumb little shit. Like when you bring me one of my drinks after we fuck or the way you look back at me when you leave in the morning. Shit, I never thought I’d have...or at least shit I never thought I’d let myself have. It’s scary, you know. Knowing that I’m exactly the type of person who would do something to fuck it all up and just having to pray that I don’t. You’re too good for me, Officer. And you know it.”
Liadrin let her say her piece. She let her get everything out that had probably been weighing pretty heavily on her. And then she just slowly crawled up onto the couch with her - smiling as Valeera grumbled about making room for her. “Nobody’s too good for anybody else, Valeera. There are no real saints in this world. No real sinners. Everyone is just trying. Just living. There are exceptions, yeah. And those people? I deal with those people every day of my life. I’m telling you - if you were one of them, I’d never have gone home with you that first night. Good people do fuck up. Sometimes they fuck up a million times before they finally get it right. Maybe...maybe this is you getting it right.”
Valeera blinked hard, then, turning onto her back in the small space between Liadrin and the back of the couch. Fuck. What if it was?
She didn’t remember what hope felt like. Not really. But she damn sure remembered what panic felt like, and there was a hell of a lot of that right now, too.
“You okay?” Liadrin asked softly, hiding her surprise as Valeera turned back towards her with a sigh and pressed as close as she could.
“So was that your way of telling me I’m a shitty decorator? Trying to take me to the store to buy things for my place?”
Liadrin laughed and with that noise came a little relief for Valeera from the tension that had built between them. “I’m sure you’re a great decorator. But we’ve been sharing a towel every time I’ve come over, and I’ve never seen it change colors or anything.”
“I wash it.” Valeera mumbled as she slipped her hand beneath Liadrin’s shirt to stroke along her toned stomach. “It’s not like it’s dirty or anything.”
“I know. You’re doing great. Really. But let’s go get you some towels. Maybe some dishes. I’ll even get you more Cheetos since you wasted them all on me.”
“Mm, you sure know the way to a girl’s heart, don’t you?” She asked as she began untangling herself from the other woman.
“I try my best. You’re a good one to try for. Even if you don’t know it yet.”
“Stop that before I drag you back into the bedroom.” Valeera might or might not have been joking. Liadrin wasn’t really sure, honestly.
Valeera found a radio station that might not exactly have been Liadrin’s favorite on the way to the store - but it wasn’t all that bad. Especially not when Valeera started drumming quietly on her own knees. “You’re cute. Did you know that?”
Valeera looked over - but she didn’t seem particularly ashamed of having been caught. In fact, she just kept right on drumming. “I mean, maybe. I gotta be something for someone who’s as good in bed as you are to be taking me to buy towels.”
Liadrin snorted. She actually snorted - and then reached over to rest a hand on Valeera’s thigh.
Valeera liked this. She actually liked this. It felt so...good to just be driving to the store with someone. It felt just as good to sort through various towels and ‘try them on’ for Liadrin while she smiled at her.
“Going with the red, then?” Liadrin asked as Valeera began placing a couple in the cart she’d been pushing.
“Yeah. For sure. That’s my favorite color, by the way. You’re learning a lot, today.”
“I am, aren’t I?” Liadrin responded as she pulled a couple more towels down off the shelf and placed them on top of the ones Valeera had already placed in the cart. “Time for Cheetos?” She asked.
“Mm. Again, with the heavy flirting. And in public this time, too, shit.”
They took a quick detour through the pet aisle and Valeera spent quite a while looking at the aquatic section - pulling various things down from the shelves to examine them. “What’s that?” Liadrin asked from where she was leaning against the handle of the cart.
“A hide. Fish like to go into them. ‘Hide’. Get it?” Even when Valeera was being sarcastic, Liadrin found something about it strangely soft. Charming. The ‘hide’ went into the cart next to the towels and, eventually, so did a pack of Valeera’s drinks and a couple of bags of Cheetos to replace the ones she’d used that morning. It wasn’t until they got to the check-out line and Liadrin pulled out her card that Valeera realized she’d meant to pay for everything.
“Don’t. Liadrin, don’t.” She murmured under her breath - sounding suddenly and extremely anxious. Liadrin glanced down at her card and then up at Valeera. Fuck, they were next in line.
“Valeera...it isn’t a big deal. I was just-”
“My bad.” Valeera responded as they moved up and Liadrin started putting everything on the conveyor. “I’m sorry, it’s just.” Valeera sighed and picked up the colorful cave-like creation she’d selected earlier. “Let me get this, yeah?”
Liadrin’s worried expression softened and she nodded. “Yeah.”
It wasn’t much. Just a few bucks. But it made Valeera feel infinitely better. The other things Liadrin had gotten, well. She could’ve done without towels. It was Liadrin that wanted them, right? The Cheetos, too. Wait. No. Those were for her. Liadrin was buying her Cheetos like she’d bought her groceries and...yeah. This was becoming a thing.
She paid for her fish house in a bit of a daze and walked a bit closer to Liadrin on their way to the other woman’s car than she had been before.
“You really took me out somewhere.” Valeera observed idly as Liadrin loaded the bags into her trunk and closed it so she could look over it at her.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Liadrin asked with a faint crease in her brow.
“No, it’s just...thank you. That’s all.”
Liadrin’s expression eased into a faint quirk of the corners of her lips and she bridged the distance between them to rest a hand on the other woman’s hip, stroking along the hem of her jeans with her thumb. “Thank you for going with me.”
Valeera just kissed her quickly and pulled away to get into the passenger side of the car as she tried to bring the flush in her cheeks back under control.
Liadrin stood there quizzically for a while before glancing down at her keys as her smile widened into a grin.
If she hadn’t already believed the words she’d said to Valeera earlier, which she did, it would’ve been even harder not to, now.
She wondered as she finally turned to head for the driver’s side door if this might not be both of them getting it right. Maybe. Just maybe.
Chapter 5: 7-Eleven
“I haven’t seen you outside of work in like a month, Liadrin. What’s the deal?” Lor’themar lifted a brow at the woman sitting across from him as their coffee was placed on the table. Liadrin shook her head and smiled softly.
“Nothing, Theron. I’ve been seeing someone, that’s all.” Her response was simple. Short. It left him dying to know more - and he made no attempt at hiding it. His expression made her laugh quietly as she took a sip of her coffee.
“Since I’ll never understand how you drink this stuff black, maybe I could settle for you telling me about her. Is it the same one you were going to see after the debriefing that night?” He leaned back in the booth they’d inhabited and began adding what Liadrin found to be appalling amounts of cream and sugar to his own coffee cup.
“Same one, yeah. Been almost a month, now. I...really like her, Lor.” She frowned as she reached for a menu and began glancing along the dinner specials a bit distractedly.
“A month, huh?” He asked as he turned his attention back to Liadrin. “You haven’t been involved with someone for longer than a few days the entire time I’ve known you. Must be serious. So what’s with the frown?”
Liadrin shook her head and found herself relieved when the waitress approached. “Can I get the Reuben, please? And what’s the soup of the day?”
The waitress began scribbling on her pad without really looking at her. “Broccoli and cheddar.”
“Great. And a cup of that.” Liadrin closed her menu and passed it to the waitress, who quickly turned her attention to Lor’themar and paid rather keen attention to him. So keen, in fact, that it actually made Liadrin smirk. The little wink she gave him before walking away nearly had her in stitches.
“Same. I’ll have the same, thanks.” He passed his own menu off and glared across the table at Liadrin.
“Lor...you had sauerkraut, man. What the fuck.”
“...Shit. I do.” He pursed his lips for a moment as one of his ears flicked in irritation. “You distracted me by not answering my question.”
“Oh? Did I, now? And you’re sure it wasn’t that pretty waitress?” Liadrin slung her arm along the back of the booth casually and crossed one leg over the other beneath the table.
“Oh, yeah. That was definitely it. She’s the one, Liadrin. The one that’s gonna turn me straight.”
“I knew it.” Liadrin whispered as she looked down at her coffee, doing her best to keep it together.
“Alright, alright. Enough giving me shit, Liadrin. I wanna know about this woman of yours.”
Liadrin sobered immediately and glowered up at him. “She’s...different from my usual type. Mostly in a good way.” She sighed heavily and ran her thumb along the edge of the mug. “Sometimes not. But...I think they even out, you know?”
Lor’themar’s expression shifted from keen interest to faint worry - worry that was apparent in the divot between his brows and the drumming of his fingers on the table which he stopped as soon as he noticed. “You wanna talk about the cons, then? Liadrin...we’re friends. We’re close. You know you can talk to me.”
A faint nod signified that she absolutely knew. They’d been friends for years...Lor’themar knew things about her that no one else still in her life did. It had been so difficult to keep everything from him. “Everybody has baggage. Even you. Even me. She’s just got different baggage, that’s all.”
Lor’themar licked his lips and sighed as he looked around at the rather empty little hole-in-the-wall they’d chosen to eat at. “You gonna be okay?” He asked without looking at her for a while. When he didn’t get a response right away, though, he hazarded a glance in her direction.
“I think so. I..yeah.” She realized how hard she’d been thinking about that question only when his expression turned doubtful. “I hope so.” She corrected, holding her coffee mug on the table in both of her hands if only to feel the warmth of it against her palms. “Only I hope that more for her than for myself, now. I don’t know how to describe it, really. Like...she’s trouble, Lor. I can see it. I saw it that first night. But I’m falling for her. Deep down, deep down where it counts - she’s so fucking good, man. She’s so goddamn good, and she deserves to be happy. She deserves what we have together.”
Lor’themar smiled at that. He couldn’t help it, really. “I’m glad, then. Really. What is it, though? Liadrin, you know I’m not one to judge. I just care. I care a lot about you and I always have.”
Liadrin shut her eyes for a moment as she thought about how to word it - how to say it in a way that would present a prettier package than it was, in reality. There just...wasn’t really a way to do that. Not in their line of work. “Addiction.” She admitted quietly before taking another sip of her coffee. “Been clean for almost seven months, now. She’s doing so well.”
Lor’themar bit his lower lip before lifting a hand to rub his own chin in thought, finding himself a bit agitated by the waitress depositing their food despite how hungry he’d been just a few minutes prior. He thanked her quietly, as did Liadrin, but didn’t even glance at his food before he spoke again. “We both know how this goes. How many times it can take for them to kick it - if they ever even do.” He tilted his head as he leaned across the table and reached for Liadrin’s hand to pat it gently. “Doesn’t matter, though. I support you and I’m here. You’re a good reason, Liadrin, believe me. A good reason for her to do what she needs to do.”
Liadrin hadn’t been expecting that. She really hadn’t. It wasn’t often that Lor’themar got this emotional on her, despite their long years of friendship. That didn’t make her appreciate it any less, despite how surprising it had been. In fact, she’d really fucking needed to hear that.
They ate in comfortable silence - content to just enjoy the quiet after a long shift. Lor’themar even convinced her to stay for a slice of pie and she accepted. She had no plans with Valeera and nothing better to do. Why not? She’d only made it halfway through her dessert when she felt her phone vibrate near her wrist on the table. She frowned and lifted it, glancing down at the screen to see Valeera’s name along with her text.
Rough day. Are you busy?
Liadrin placed her fork down and quickly began typing a reply.
Not at all. Talk to me.
It’s just hard. It’s hard today. I’m sorry.
Liadrin felt a slight tingle along her spine as she looked up at Lor’themar and placed her phone down, pulling out a stash of cash from the inner breast pocket of her jacket and placing a twenty down on the table before she slid out of the booth and moved towards him for a hug. “Gotta go, Lor. Sorry. See you tomorrow.”
He laughed and patted her on the back. “Alright, then. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
Good. Good, let him think she was being summoned for whatever it was that he thought. She didn’t really care right now, as she opened her phone again on her way out the doors and sent another text.
Hang tight. I’ll be there soon. Promise.
A shuddering breath left her as she tugged open her car door and got in quickly - making a beeline for the nearest 7-Eleven. Sure, maybe some girls might like chocolates or to be taken out to eat a nice meal when they weren’t feeling their best. She’d been with plenty of girls like that. This girl, though? Her girl? Well, her girl liked Sno Balls and Circus Peanuts and Bug Juice and, honestly? The judgmental look on the attendant’s face as he rang her up made her smile. She’d even debated upon a Slurpee. Maybe another time. She had enough to juggle as it was.
That fact came that much more apparent when she walked up to Valeera’s apartment door and realized she was going to have to knock with her knee. The fact that the door swung open as soon as she touched it drove the worry back into her full-force.
“Valeera?” Her voice was calm even though she wasn’t as she took a step inside. “Honey?”
Half a second later, the bags she was carrying were falling to the floor right in the doorway as Valeera all but flung herself at her, wrapping her arms around her tightly and pressing her face into the crook of her neck. “Hey. Hey, talk to me.” Liadrin murmured as she held on just as firmly in turn with one arm, stroking over Valeera’s hair with her free hand.
“The court date. Fuck. Everything. Everything, Liadrin.” Valeera whispered almost frantically against her neck. “It’s too fucking much. They’re gonna fuck me over. They’re gonna.”
“Shit, Valeera.” Liadrin breathed in response as she reached behind herself to shut the door and walked Valeera backwards towards the couch in the living room until she was finally able to sit her down, only to find herself tugged down against the younger woman strongly. “Alright. Alright, I’m here. Take a breath for me.”
Valeera was shaking. Hard. Yet, somehow, she listened. She drew in a slow, deep breath as Liadrin shifted to straddle her lap and press her back against the cushions of the couch so she could stroke along the sides of her face. “Another one.”
Again, she listened. Liadrin repeated this until the shaking stopped. Until it had turned into a few tears, instead. Tears that desperately needed to come out - ones that Liadrin wiped away carefully with her thumbs. “Okay?” Liadrin asked as she leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to Valeera’s lips. “Okay?”
Valeera nodded slowly. “I will be. Don’t leave. Please don’t. I need you. I fuckin’ hate needing people, but I do. So much. Please.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m not, Valeera. You can need me. I swear you can. I won’t stop being there. Never. We’ll figure this out. It’ll all work out. All of it. Try to believe me. Believe in me like I believe in you.”
Something about the low, steady murmur of Liadrin’s voice drew her from the spiral she’d been freefalling into for most of the day. Just this - just the past few minutes of her strong, sure presence had changed everything just like it always did.
Liadrin didn’t move, though, even when Valeera finally seemed calm. She just kissed her temples and her hair and appreciated the younger woman’s gentle touches along her back for the longest time before she finally spoke. “I brought you something.”
Valeera’s ears shifted upward in a way that made Liadrin smile - a smile that Valeera felt all the way down to her stomach.
“I’ll be right back.” Liadrin whispered, still smiling as she kissed Valeera and carefully removed herself from her lap. She removed her jacket on her way back to the door and hung it on the door handle as she reached down for the bag. After making sure nothing had been crushed, Liadrin returned to the couch and sat down next to Valeera, passing her the bag and then finding it difficult to keep herself from watching as she went through and started pulling out the assortment of snacks and candies.
By the time she’d placed everything on the coffee table - likely enough food to feed an entire family for a day or two - instead of being excited, she seemed almost sad. Liadrin reached out and stroked along her thigh worriedly. “I’m sorry.” She murmured, shifting closer to Valeera and pressing a kiss to her shoulder. “I just tried to get what I know you liked. Do you want me to go back out?”
Valeera looked down at what Liadrin had brought her for a while longer then leaned into her. “No. No leaving, remember?” She tilted her head up and brushed her lips against Liadrin’s jaw. “You’re perfect.” Valeera continued, sniffling quietly as a soft smile formed on her lips. “I’ve never met anyone more perfect than you.”
“Because I brought you like a million calories of junk food like it would somehow help you?” Liadrin asked while Valeera pushed her back against the couch and settled against her rather comfortably with her head against her chest.
“No.” Valeera responded as Liadrin looked down at her and helped her pull her legs up into her lap. “I mean, yeah. Some. It’s everything else, too, though. Like how you don’t mind being here in my shitty apartment. How you take me out like I’m…” Valeera trailed off, then, and sighed as she turned her face towards Liadrin’s chest.
“Like you’re what?” Liadrin asked quietly, giving Valeera’s thigh a gentle squeeze and lifting her chin so she could better see her in the dim lighting she’d left on in the apartment.
“Nothing.” Valeera shut her eyes for a moment then opened them, rolling them as she pulled her chin away from Liadrin’s hand and then flopped onto her back with her head in the older woman’s lap and her eyes trained on the black screen of the tv across the living room. “Like this is real or something. Like I’m good enough to be your girlfriend or some stupid shit like that.”
Liadrin’s ears wilted, though Valeera hadn’t seen. She heard the quiet way Liadrin cleared her through, though. And she definitely heard the way her voice wasn’t all that steady, for once. “Is it not? Are you not?” She asked, nearly averting her gaze as Valeera looked up at her. Somehow, though, she managed to keep looking at her despite how conflicted her emotions suddenly were. “I guess I just assumed…”
“Are you serious?” Valeera asked - her voice equally as unsure and even quieter. “I mean, I kind of figured you liked me. You’re pretty easy to read, there. But you really think it’s more than that? That someone like you belongs with someone like me?”
“I’ve told you this before, Valeera. I’ve told you there’s no such thing as what you’re saying. If you don’t want to put labels on this, that’s completely fine. You can’t stop me from feeling the way I feel about you, though. Hell, I can’t even stop me.” Liadrin glanced down quickly when she felt Valeera cover her hand with her own and then twine their fingers together - the almost pensive look on her face softening immediately.
“If you wanna put a label on it, you can.” Valeera whispered, sighing quietly and then turning onto her side to press her face against Liadrin’s stomach, where her next words came out muffled. “Do you?”
Liadrin exhaled in a whisper of a laugh as she toyed gently with the ear not currently pressed between the side of Valeera’s head and her thigh. “Yeah.” Liadrin murmured. “Yeah, if you want to be my girlfriend or some shit, I’d like that.”
That earned her a smirk that turned into a real, genuine smile before Valeera reached for Liadrin’s side and touched along it, sliding her fingertips beneath the leather holster resting against it to hold onto her. “Yeah, same.” Valeera responded rather nonchalantly.
“The girlfriend part?” Liadrin asked, yelping as sharp fangs pinched at her stomach through her shirt before Valeera pushed herself up to sit next to her.
“You bit me.” Liadrin murmured as she rubbed at her own stomach over the spot that had, in all honesty, already stopped stinging.
“You telling me I can’t bite my own girlfriend, now?” Valeera asked as she reached for a bag of circus peanuts and tore it open to pop one into her mouth.
“I think you’ve made it pretty obvious before tonight that you enjoy biting your girlfriend very much if we’re being honest, here.“
Liadrin turned her attention to Valeera slowly when she realized the younger woman was staring at her, and couldn’t help but snort at how utterly taken-aback she was pretending to be. “Okay. If you hate biting me so much, I dare you not to bite me next time we fuck.”
Valeera lifted a hand to her own chest at that. “Do you really think I have, like, no self-control? You really think that?”
Liadrin lifted her brows and smiled faintly but said nothing until Valeera finally sighed and let her head fall back against the couch so she could look up at the ceiling. “Fuck you. You already know I’m gonna bite you. That’s not fair.”
Liadrin’s smile turned more genuine and she leaned over the younger woman with one hand on the other side of her head as she kissed first her cheek then the corner of her jaw before murmuring against it. “I like it. Don’t worry.”
Valeera laughed quietly and reached up to stroke along Liadrin’s shoulder. “Mhmm. I thought so.”
Liadrin nipped gently at Valeera’s jaw and then lifted her head to look down into her eyes. “You’re kind of a brat, you know that?”
“Am I?” Valeera asked as she narrowed her eyes playfully. “You like that, too.”
Liadrin shut her eyes for a moment and snorted almost derisively before resting her shoulder against the couch so Valeera could press close to her again. “Yeah. Yeah, I kind of do.”
Valeera licked her lips as she stood and slowly obeyed the judge who had been scowling at her for what felt like the better part of the morning. She’d kept her eyes off of Liadrin until now - even when the older woman’s cases had come up. Now, though, she glanced at her with furrowed brows - thankful for the quick but encouraging smile she got in return.
“If I said I was surprised to see you back so soon, I’d be lying. How many programs does this make that you’ve failed? How many times have you thrown this court’s generosity back in my face?”
Valeera blinked hard and glanced at her defender who was standing next to her, relieved when the woman began to speak. “Your honor, with due respect, this doesn’t necessarily constitute a failure. Her tests came back clean. She’s maintained employment...she hasn’t even missed a meeting aside from that one. It’s hardly fair to-”
“I didn’t ask you, counselor. I was speaking to Ms. Sanguinar.”
Liadrin’s ears flattened slowly as she felt heat rising in her face from the other side of the courtroom. Oh, god, she shouldn’t have hung around after her cases. No. No, she was here for Valeera. She needed to be here. Besides, the judge was likely just giving her a hard time, right? This would be fine, just like she’d told her. Like she’d promised her.
“Your Honor, I didn’t have a ride. I tried. I tried to make it, and I was going to see my probation officer the next morning to explain, but you’d already had the warrant issued.”
“You’re damn right I had the warrant issued.” He grumbled in response as he looked down at her case file and flipped through it for a moment. “Six months. You made it six months without a single misstep. It’s like you want to sabotage this.”
“No, sir, I...I’ve been doing everything I’m supposed to do this time. I swear.”
He lifted his eyes to her slowly, narrowed as they were. “If that were the case we wouldn’t be here right now. But, very well. I’ll give you the luxury of deciding.” He shut her file and continued. “Either you start this program over - the full twelve-month program - or we lift the suspension on your sentence and you sit in County for the entire year. “
Valeera felt the air leave the room. She felt the weight of what he’d said begin to crush her almost as soon as the words left his mouth.
Behind her, Lor’themar glanced over at Liadrin and the way her jaw clenched before looking back up at Valeera as sudden understanding washed over him and he winced visibly. Quickly, he lifted a hand and grasped Liadrin’s shoulder firmly as he saw her shift restlessly in her seat.
“Your Honor, that hardly seems necessary. One meeting. You are starting her right where she began for missing one meeting. Surely there is some sort of guideline that-”
“Are you questioning my understanding of my own guidelines, Counsellor? Now, Ms. Sanguinar - as I’ve said, the choice is yours, and you only have two of them.”
“The, uh...the program.” Her voice was slightly raspy. Her eyes were burning so badly she could hardly see out of them. “I’ll start the program over.”
“I thought you might say that. Very well. You know how it works, then. Same probation officer, same requirements. You’ll receive a summons in the mail in a month’s time for your next wellness check.”
Valeera turned around slowly, and Liadrin nearly lost any and all sense at how defeated and lost she looked as her attorney tried to rest a hand on her back only to find herself shaken off. “Can I go?” Valeera asked the woman in a whisper as they walked back towards the seats they’d come from.
“Yes, Valeera. Please, call me if you need me. I’m so sorry.”
LIadrin’s eyes burned into the judge seated in front of them. She hadn’t felt this much anger in as long as she could remember. “I have to go.” She whispered to Lor’themar.
“Any more cases today? I still have two…”
“No. No, all mine have been tried. I have to go.”
He was worried. Intensely so - at the way she kept repeating herself and the way she shook slightly as she slipped out of the seat during a pause in proceedings and rushed from the room. Liadrin looked frantically along the hallways outside - then in the lobby - before pushing open the courthouse doors and scanning the sidewalks and benches that lined the front of the building.
“Valeera?” She called out - her brows furrowed harshly as she began taking the stairs two at a time despite the fact that she was in heels. Despite the fact that the suit she was wearing was too formal for the half-jog she’d erupted into. “Valeera!”
God, where was she? Where the fuck was she?
She took the block. A left down the one-way street that ran alongside the courthouse and felt relief wash over her as she caught Valeera out of the corner of her eye. The relief was short-lived, though. The younger woman was pressed into a little nook of the building, shaking with what Liadrin could tell as she got closer were sobs.
“Hey.” Liadrin breathed as she walked up to her and placed a hand on her back. Valeera didn’t make any move to stop her. Right now, Liadrin was the only thing she wanted and everything else could burn for all she cared. “Look at me.”
Valeera did. She turned quickly and threw her arms around Liadrin’s neck, burying her face against the older woman’s chest. The following sobs were bitter and exhausting, and they didn’t stop until Liadrin was supporting more than just a little of her weight. “I’ll make sure you get to every single meeting. I promise, Valeera. It’s only a year. I’ll get you through it. No matter what it takes.”
“I don’t wanna do this anymore.” Valeera murmured into Liadrin’s chest - her voice trembling in a way that Liadrin could feel in the pit of her stomach. “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how hard I try or how good I do. They don’t want me out of this fucking system. They’re never gonna let me out.”
Liadrin’s eyes slipped shut and she held Valeera more tightly, then, stroking along her back and shaking her head. “That isn’t true. And even if it is - we’re getting you out of it. We are. Believe me.”
“I believed you last time, too.” Valeera whispered, tensing in Liadrin’s arms as she realized what she’d said when she’d already said it. “Liadrin I…”
“Shh.” Liadrin pulled back slowly and lifted her hands so she could clean Valeera’s face up as much as she was able right then. “Did you feed Sponge, already? I don’t work shifts on court days. Why don’t we go to my place? Hm? Somewhere new for a change.”
Valeera nodded almost numbly and allowed Liadrin to lead her to the parking garage behind the imposing building they’d been hiding against. She got into the car just as silently. It reminded Liadrin of the time she’d posted her bail for her, and she reached over - seeking out Valeera’s hand. She was almost surprised when the younger woman grasped it tightly and pulled it close to herself. “I told you.” Valeera finally whispered as they took turns she was unfamiliar with into neighborhoods nicer than anything she could ever hope to afford. “I told you I’d fuck it up.”
“Don’t talk like that.” Liadrin whispered. “You haven’t fucked anything up. Some shitty judge with a hair up his ass fucked your case up, sure. But everything is the same between you and I. Nothing you could do is going to make me give up on you. Nothing.”
Valeera kept her thoughts to herself. They wouldn’t do anything but push Liadrin away...they wouldn’t do anything but bring about the inevitable that much faster. The house they eventually pulled up to did little to help settle those fears. Two floors. Two-car garage. Suburbs. Of course.
She waited in the car while Liadrin walked around to open her door for her, her head hanging slightly as she followed Liadrin to her front door. “I have clothes that’ll fit you, I’m sure. Nice comfy sleep clothes for after you bathe.”
A bath. A bath sounded wonderful. She hadn’t had anything more than a shower in her apartments or...anywhere else she’d been, for years. If that thought had lifted her spirits any, they sank somewhat as they both stepped inside and Valeera looked at the beautiful stone tile of the entryway, and then further in at white carpet and beautiful, light-colored furniture. A fireplace, too. Jesus Christ.
“I can...I can give you the tour, or you can look around, if you want.” Liadrin’s brow was furrowed faintly in worry as Valeera walked past her without answering, glancing at the various awards on the walls along with the photographs. Most of them looked like cops. She didn’t see anything that could be construed as ‘family’ until she got to the fireplace and her eyes settled on a picture on the mantle. A picture of a little girl on Liadrin’s shoulders.
“You didn’t tell me you have a kid. What the fuck.” Valeera muttered as she lifted the frame and held it in her hands to better examine it.
“Not mine.” Liadrin corrected gently as she placed her keys in the little dish near the door and walked into the living room to look down at the picture. “I had temporary custody of her for a while. Until her mother got better. Enough to take her back, anyway.”
“Must be fucking nice.” Valeera placed the picture back down as she felt her emotions warring inside herself. It would have been so easy to stop saying shit like that. To stop prodding Liadrin the way she was. What the fuck was wrong with her? “Maybe if somebody had given a shit about me like that I’d have turned out better.” Fuck. “Oh well. Nobody did, and here we are.” Fuck.
Liadrin swallowed thickly as she stood there almost awkwardly. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you didn’t have that, Valeera.”
“It’s no big deal. You didn’t do it, and you wouldn’t understand, anyway.” Valeera walked past her, then, and plopped down into the corner of the couch - wiping at her eyes before any of the tears that had been welling in them could fall.
“I would, though.” Liadrin responded quietly as she rested a hand on the mantle and looked down at the stonework in front of the hearth. “I would understand.”
“Really?” Valeera asked dryly as she looked up at her from across the room. She felt that anger, again. The kind that came on the heels of frustration. The kind she had no control over when she was like this. “You’d understand that the system doesn’t wanna let me go because I’ve been in it since I was a kid? You’d understand what it’s like having no fuckin’ parents - getting tossed around from home to home until you’re old enough to convince men to buy you booze and, eventually, more? You’d get all that, you think?”
Liadrin lifted her eyes to Valeera slowly and swallowed past the lump in her throat. Valeera looked slightly concerned at the almost pained expression on her face, suddenly.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’d get all that.” Liadrin whispered, letting her hand fall from the mantle before she made her way into the kitchen and reached into the fridge for a bottle of wine she’d left chilling there. “I didn’t have anyone either.” She continued as she poured them both a glass before tossing the now-empty bottle in the trash. “Not since I was little and my parents died. Our experiences were probably different after that, I’d imagine. I didn’t have a lot of fight in me. Not like you.” Liadrin walked back into the living room, then, and handed Valeera one of the glasses, though she didn’t sit down, herself.
“Doesn’t make me any better. Doesn’t make us different. People deal with different things different ways. I’m not used to being close to people. To loving them. What we have scares me to death, if I’m being honest. That doesn’t mean I wanna lose it. And it definitely doesn’t mean I wanna lose you.”
Valeera pressed her lips together and nodded, sitting her glass of wine down on the end table next to the sofa before she stood and took Liadrin’s from hers, placing it next to the first and then reaching for the lapels of the jacket the other woman was wearing, guiding it off her shoulders to toss it against the back of the couch. “I’m sorry.” Valeera whispered. “I’m real sorry, Liadrin. I didn’t know. It didn’t make sense for you to get me the way you do. Never has. It didn’t make sense for you to stick around. I guess there’s a lot we don’t know about each other. A lot I should have talked to you about instead of just assuming.”
Liadrin regarded Valeera calmly for a while before she reached up to trail her fingertips along the side of her face. “I know you’re upset. I’m not angry with you.” Liadrin murmured - using that same tone she had the other night.
“You should be.” Valeera whispered with a slight lift of her brows before she shut her eyes as Liadrin cradled her face in her hand. The warmth of her palm was a blessing right now, for whatever reason.
“Well I’m not.” Liadrin urged as she took a step closer and looped an arm around Valeera’s slender waist. “It takes a lot to shake me. I’m sure you can guess why. You have every right to be upset. I can take it.”
Valeera turned her head to kiss Liadrin’s palm - a slow, lingering kiss that caused Liadrin’s gaze to shift slightly so she could watch. A moment later, Valeera’s lips found the side of her neck as her hands went to the buttons on her shirt. “Show me your bedroom.” Valeera murmured, finding herself pleasantly surprised at the fact that all she found was the warmth of skin beneath Liadrin’s shirt instead of the usual vest.
“You’ve had a really hard day, Valeera.” Liadrin responded. “I can order us a pizza. We can hang out on the couch. We don’t need to do anything.” Her words trailed off into a hiss as Valeera’s teeth grazed her neck.
“I need this, Liadrin.” Valeera pulled the shirt from Liadrin’s shoulders, then, tugging it from the belt of the slacks she was wearing before she went for the clasp of the bra against her back. “Nothing helps me forget the way you do. Nothing.”
Those words were heavy with implication. Firm in a way Liadrin couldn’t second-guess. Finally, she stroked up the front of the younger woman’s body - drawing a soft gasp from her as she found her breasts and brushed her fingertips along the jewelry in her nipples that she could feel easily through the material of her shirt.
Before Valeera could really react, Liadrin had lifted her up against her hips by the backs of her thighs. That finally managed to earn her a soft smile from the younger woman. A smile she found herself chasing all the way to the bedroom where she lowered Valeera to the bed slowly - kicking off her heels and settling her weight down against her. As much as she hated to, she covered that smile with a kiss. A kiss Valeera deepened hungrily as she tugged Liadrin’s bra the rest of the way off and cupped her breasts between them, kneading them firmly enough that Liadrin groaned into her mouth.
“You’ve got a harness, right?” Valeera murmured breathlessly against Liadrin’s mouth as she wrapped her legs around her waist and rolled her hips up into her.
“What?” Liadrin asked as she broke the kiss only to trail more down towards Valeera’s jaw.
“A strap-on. Like. You know. A dick. Only without the veins because...y’know. Not a fan.”
Liadrin laughed quietly into Valeera’s shoulder. “Jesus. Yes, Valeera. I have one.”
“Mm, I figured you might.” Valeera purred in response. “Just something about the way you fuck me made it feel like a pretty safe guess.”
“Is that what you want tonight?” Liadrin asked against her ear in a low, quiet way that made Valeera shudder as goosebumps rose along her arms.
“Fuck, yes. Wear me out and then show me that bathtub.”
Liadrin laughed softly as she pulled away, looking down at Valeera for a moment as she tugged her own shirt off and began unbuttoning her own pants.
“What?” Valeera asked with a raise of her brow. “You worry about you. I’m trying to get laid over here.”
Liadrin snorted quietly and made quick work of the remainder of her own clothing before sliding open the drawer of her nightstand and lifting what had to be the nicest leather harness Valeera had ever seen from it. Valeera, meanwhile, found herself glad she’d already gotten undressed just so she could watch as Liadrin pulled the straps of it up around her strong thighs to be buckled against them before she turned and reached for the smaller ones that curved beneath her ass.
“C’mere.” Valeera murmured as she scooted to the edge of the bed on her side and reached out, tightening them against Liadrin’s skin and stroking along the back of her thigh as she gave the thick girth of the toy attached to the ring in the front of the ensemble an experimental tug. “I’m not as up on current law as you are, would you mind telling me if it’s legal to be this hot?” There was a certain husk in Valeera’s voice, now, as she spoke while Liadrin turned back to face her again - and a certain hunger in Liadrin’s eyes, in turn.
“You tell me.” She responded as Valeera turned onto her back and shrugged.
“Oh. Were you flirting with me, just now?” Valeera asked after a moment - when Liadrin had already started moving onto the bed on top of her.
“Trying to.” Liadrin responded with a slight pout of her lips that Valeera couldn’t help but run her fingertips over.
“You’re doing great.” She responded, pulling Liadrin down by the back of her neck to press a firm kiss to her lips. “Best game ever to have been spat at me.”
“I’m so sure.” Liadrin responded quietly as she stroked down Valeera’s inner thigh and glanced down between them as she felt another tug at her hips only to find Valeera’s hand wrapped around the length of the toy so she could run it against herself. “Fuck.” Liadrin breathed as Valeera’s other hand grasped her hip to pull her closer.
“Alright.” Liadrin murmured as she leaned down against the younger woman, in part to keep her still, in part in an attempt to center herself, as well. This had all happened so quickly, and Liadrin wanted it so badly.
“Sorry.” Valeera breathed as she pulled her hand from between them and reached up to toy with the hair at the nape of Liadrin’s neck. “I just really need you right now.”
Liadrin nodded faintly, finding Valeera’s hand with her own as it retreated to draw it up against the pillow beside her head. “I need you, too.” She admitted quietly, flexing her hips slowly as she settled more comfortably between Valeera’s legs, spreading her knees out against the plush coverings of her bead.
“I know.” Valeera whispered against her ear before nipping the lobe of it. “Just like I know you’re gonna fuck me so good.”
Valeera smirked at the little noise this drew from Liadrin. A smirk that faded as her chin tilted up and a slow, shuddering breath left her in response to the feeling of Liadrin pressing into her. “God damn.” Valeera breathed as Liadrin finally settled against her.
“Okay?” Liadrin’s voice was low and breathless as she pressed a faint kiss to Valeera’s shoulder.
Valeera nodded and dragged her nails lightly across Liadrin’s back, stroking, then, over the marks she’d only just left there. “Keep going.”
If the way Liadrin looked wasn’t illegal, Valeera was almost sure the way she moved had to have been breaking at least several laws. How someone could move so slowly, yet so firmly, Valeera couldn’t wrap her mind around. Instead, she just wrapped her legs around Liadrin tightly and released her back to rest her hands on her shoulders, instead.
Valeera had told Liadrin on their first night together that she liked being kissed while she was getting fucked - and that remained true now, more than ever. Whenever one of them wasn’t just trying their best to breathe, they kissed. Hard, bruising kisses full of moans and gasps. Valeera had never been with someone like Liadrin. Someone who always seemed so sure. Somehow gave her everything she need without her ever really having to ask.
Almost as soon as she was used to the size, she was moving harder. Faster. Eliciting repeated whimpers and breathy moans from Valeera, whose trembling hands were now on either side of Liadrin’s neck - thumbs tracing the front of her throat to her jaw and back down. Now, she found dampness at the nape of her neck when she touched there. Then, she found flushed, slick skin along her back when she reached around her again.
“Do you like...fuck…” Valeera trailed off in a way that made Liadrin’s strokes slower - yet deeper.
“What, baby?” She asked breathlessly against her ear before she exhaled against it.
“When I...when I talk to you while you fuck me?”
Another sharp exhale followed by a nod and then the feeling of Liadrin grasping her thighs as she gave her a particularly sharp snap of her hips.
“Good. Because I want you to know this pussy is yours.”
Liadrin laughed, albeit breathlessly, into the pillow her face was now pressed into - a laugh that turned into a quiet groan.
Valeera turned her head and brushed her lips against the corner of Liadrin’s jaw. “Yours.” She repeated. “Make me come. Please.”
Liadrin pushed herself up onto her knees, then, rather abruptly, and reached down to find Valeera’s clit with her thumb, stroking firm circles around it as her hips continued rolling and snapping forward.
Valeera didn’t know if it was the sight of Liadrin on her knees or the stimulation. Both, probably. All she knew was she was coming - and that she was coming harder than she could ever remember. All while Liadrin watched her and rubbed slowly at her thigh until even that was too much for her. Until she was pulling free of her and sitting back between her legs. Sitting, until she just fell onto her back, instead.
She heard Valeera laugh breathlessly somewhere in the corner of her mind.
“Been a while, babe?” Valeera asked quietly as she moved to lay with Liadrin, who was now pointed the wrong way on the bed. Liadrin smiled over at her as Valeera began tracing lines across the flushed skin of her chest.
“Maybe.” Liadrin responded before bringing Valeera’s hand to her mouth to press her lips against her palm.
“We’ll have to get you back in shape, then.” Valeera was joking, of course. Liadrin was...incredibly in shape. Not that they both didn’t know that, already. In fact, Valeera took her time unstrapping the buckles that were resting against Liadrin’s hips - tracing the lines of muscle there before discarding the harness.
“Mm, I wouldn’t mind. Ready for that bath?” Liadrin lifted a hand to the back of Valeera’s head as the younger woman rested her cheek against her shoulder and groaned in protest.
“In the morning.” Valeera responded simply. Sleepily.
“You were so sure you wanted to see the bathtub, earlier.” Liadrin responded as she struggled to keep her eyes open, as well.
“You were too good at wearing me out.” Valeera’s voice was a mere murmur, now.
“Was it what you needed, though?” Liadrin asked, kissing the top of Valeera’s head and adjusting herself as the younger woman slid a leg over one of her own to thread beneath the other.
“Fuck, yeah, it was. You have no idea.”
Liadrin reached for Valeera’s hand and splayed their fingers out, the tips of them resting together just so. The simple comfort of it caused Valeera to turn her face against Liadrin’s shoulder in an attempt to hide her smile.
“Sleep now, then. Breakfast and bath in the morning.”
“Mm. Great girlfriend. You’re doing great.” Valeera was half-asleep, but there was no sarcasm in her voice. None at all. Only genuine appreciation.
“So are you.” Liadrin breathed. Valeera gave her no response as she began to drift off, but the slight lift of her ears - the shift of her lips against her shoulder - told Liadrin that she had heard her. That maybe she’d even needed to hear that right now, and maybe Valeera would never admit it - but she had. She absolutely had.
I see you, Hex.
Chapter 7: Fish Water
Well...they did have time, after all. It wouldn’t hurt to go in and help her. Liadrin smiled to herself as she walked up to the apartment door and knocked softly, looking at her keyring for the key Valeera had given her. “Babe?” She called out as she opened the door, frowning at the darkness of her living room. She turned her head as though she’d somehow see the car she knew Valeera didn’t have outside then rolled her eyes at herself. It was that lift of her gaze that drew her attention to the crumpled piece of paper taped to the front of her door.
Her brow furrowed as she pulled it down and opened it. An eviction notice. A fucking eviction notice. “Valeera!” Her voice was sharper now as she shut the door firmly behind herself and made her way inside quickly. Straight to the bedroom. She’d have heard the younger woman by now if she were in the living room or the kitchen. “Shit. Shit. Valeera?” The urgency in her voice was unmistakable. The panic burned in her throat as it rose rapidly from the pit of her stomach. She passed first through the dark bedroom, then threw the light on in the bathroom to find it empty as well.
Empty. “Fuck!” Her voice was hoarse with worry. Trembling with fear. Until she heard the quiet rustle of blankets behind her and turned quickly on her heel.
“Don’t be mad.” Valeera whispered from the bed. “I should have texted you. I don’t feel like dinner. I just wanted to sleep.”
Liadrin exhaled slowly, allowing her eyes to shut for a moment as she tried to will her heart into beating more regularly. She moved towards the bed without really thinking and was on her knees at the edge of it within seconds, reaching immediately for what little of Valeera’s head wasn’t currently covered in her blankets as her eyes opened - just little slits of green light amidst a jumble of hair and comforter. “I’m not mad, Valeera.” Liadrin murmured, leaning forward until her forehead was resting against Liadrin’s temple. “I’m not mad. You scared me, baby.”
“I didn’t use.” Valeera responded quickly, scooting closer to the edge of the bed and slipping her arm out from beneath the blanket to wrap around Liadrin’s shoulders. “I wanted to.” There was a little shakiness to her voice as she admitted that
“You could’ve called.” Liadrin whispered as Valeera dug her fingertips into her back in an attempt to pull her closer. The only way she was getting any closer, though, was if she crawled into bed with her. That’s exactly what she did. Fully dressed, shoes still on - it didn’t matter. She struggled in the darkness to get under the covers until, finally, she felt Valeera press the length of her body against her own larger one and she went still.
“I knew you were coming. You always do. So I just kinda...hunkered down and waited. I dunno.”
“You did so good.” Liadrin almost purred the words into Valeera’s hair as she stroked along her back over the soft, worn t-shirt she’d probably been wearing since the night before. “What happened?”
Valeera drew in a slow, deliberate breath as she tucked her head beneath Liadrin’s chin, exhaling against her chest before she finally gathered herself enough to attempt to explain. “Lease is up. They don’t wanna keep me on. They were gonna renew me, but...I dunno. I guess they changed their minds. Waitlist for public housing is over a year, I already checked. For someone who’s not in danger, whatever that means. I don’t have kids, either. Fuck me, right?”
Liadrin stared at the wall behind Valeera as she listened to her, her thoughts racing a mile a minute - but she never stopped rubbing the other woman’s back. Not even for a second. “How long do you have to get out? Have you told your parole officer?” Liadrin asked when it seemed like Valeera didn’t have anything left to say.
“...Yeah. She told me to get back with her tomorrow if I haven’t figured anything out and she’d call around to the halfway houses to get me a bed. That’s...that’s my second notice. So...I don’t, really. I don’t have any time to get out.”
“No.” Liadrin’s response was immediate. Firm.
“What the fuck else am I supposed to do, Liadrin?” Valeera asked as she pulled away and sat up in bed so quickly she had to brace herself against the mattress to stop her head from spinning. “I get it. I get that this isn’t the kind of shit you want in your life. But nobody ever told you you had to stay. There’s no reason for you to be fucking around with someone like me in the first place. Like, let’s just be honest with ourselves about that and save ourselves a lot of unnecessary bullshit in the future.”
“Stay with me until I can find you an apartment.” Liadrin’s voice was low, quiet, and steady.
“How’s it gonna look, Liadrin? For you to be picking me up at a halfway house? How’s it going to feel to know you have to have me back by ten or whatever fucked up fucking curfew I’m gonna have like I’m some fucking…” She trailed off as she slowly looked down at Liadrin. “What?”
Liadrin sat up carefully, not even daring to look at Valeera as she did so. “Just until I can find you an apartment. It won’t take long. I’ll get you a nice place. Tub and everything. I don’t want you in one of those places. That’s the last place you need to be right now.”
“We’ve been together like...a month and a half, Liadrin. You can’t just…” Valeera trailed off and leaned forward, holding her head in her hands and swallowing thickly past the lump in her throat currently trying its best to betray her. “You can’t just do that.”
“I’m not gonna let you live in a halfway house.” Liadrin stood from the bed and reached up to tug the tie from her hair that held it up, sliding it around her wrist to run her hands through her hair. “Fuck. I know.”
“This is a terrible idea. This is a terrible idea, Liadrin.” Valeera whispered so quietly Liadrin had to strain to hear her.
“It’s a temporary solution. Not a permanent one. I have a guest bedroom that’s already furnished, so-”
“You don’t want me in yours?” Valeera asked before she really realized what she was even saying, her ears hanging low as she looked at Liadrin. “Fuck.” She sighed and shook her head and forced herself out of bed so she could find the light switch. Maybe that would help her think more clearly.
God, no. It only made the ache in her head worse - and Liadrin moved towards her when she saw her wince. “I absolutely want you there, Valeera. I just don’t want you there for any reason other than yourself. Where’s that headache medicine we got at the store the other day?”
The entire time Liadrin was talking, she was guiding Valeera back to the bed and lowering her back into it.
“Kitchen.” Valeera murmured before tugging her pillow over her face to shield her eyes from the light above her.
Liadrin lingered int he doorway for a moment, looking back at the bed. At the way Valeera slowly turned onto her side and tucked her knees against her chest. Yeah. It was a hell of a terrible idea. Liadrin could feel it in her fucking bones. The alternative, though, was so much worse.
When she walked back into the bedroom, she’d made peace with the decision and the lack of logic therein. Being back in the room with Valeera, dejected as she was, only further drove home the fact that it was the only option. This was part of not giving up on her. A hell of a part, sure. But a part nonetheless.
“I really hate water.” Valeera whispered as she handed the glass back to Liadrin, who only pressed it gently back towards her.
“Yeah, I know, sweetheart. But I need you to drink this particular water for me. You haven’t been out of bed all day and you need it.”
“Is this what it’s gonna be like living with you?” Valeera asked quietly before taking another sip and leaning against the headboard before Liadrin moved onto the bed to sit propped beside her.
Liadrin reached out, then and stroked slowly along the arm Valeera still had wrapped around her own stomach. “Maybe sometimes.” She admitted, leaning her head back and then turning it to the side to find the younger woman already looking at her. “Mostly, I’ll be sleeping during the daytime like a boring lump.”
“You aren’t boring.” Valeera mumbled with a slight furrow of her brow.
Liadrin offered her a faint smile and lifted her hand to touch along her jaw as she kissed her. Fuck, that had to have been the softest thing Valeera had ever felt…
“Will you, then? Let me help you? Stay with me while I find you something better?”
Valeera stared rather listlessly at the glass in her hand. She couldn’t make it work in her head. She couldn’t make herself belong there with that nice furniture and that wonderful tub and a glass of wine every night.
“We can try.” She finally murmured as she ran her thumb along the rim of her glass, smiling weakly as Liadrin pressed a kiss to the bridge of her nose.
“Would you rather have juice?” Liadrin asked quietly, already taking the glass from Valeera’s hands. She knew the answer. She’d just been looking for the widening of that smile that she got in response.
Liadrin half-jogged into the livingroom and relieved her of her burden as though she were worried Liadrin were going to drop it. After a careful inspection of the rather unaffected fish inside it, she glanced up at Liadrin and laughed. A tired laugh, but a laugh nonetheless. “You have fish water on you.”
“I was doing my best.” Liadrin complained quietly as she pulled her shirt out to see for herself and sighed at the widening line of dampness across her stomach before dropping the material back down against herself.
She watched Valeera carry the tank into the living room and stand in the center of it thoughtfully before choosing the distressed buffet beneath where the TV was mounted to the wall. Valeera had been just about to lift the tank onto the surface of it when she flicked an ear in Liadrin’s direction and looked over at her worriedly.
“Perfect.” Liadrin reaffirmed with a grin. It was hard. Hard not to be a little excited. Hard for both of them, really. Right now, in the excitement of unloading the last of Valeera’s things - and in the knowledge that they would go to bed exhausted but together, tonight, it was almost impossible to worry.
Moreso, even, when the few boxes had been unpacked and Valeera had claimed her drawers and her hangers and, now, Liadrin’s lap in the bath they were sharing. In fact, Valeera was losing herself in it all. Especially the feeling of Liadrin’s chest against her back and her fingertips trailing lines along her arms where they rested on the edge of the tub. “Are you okay?” Liadrin asked quietly against the back of her ear.
“Very.” Valeera murmured as Liadrin shifted one of her legs beneath the surface of the water, drawing it up along the younger woman’s slender side as she brushed her lips against the back of her neck. “Scared, too.”
“Me, too.” Liadrin admitted quietly. Easily. “Why are you scared?” She stopped the gentle touches, then - running her hands up along Valeera’s arms until they were resting against her shoulders, which she began kneading slowly and deeply. Finding knots Valeera wasn’t even aware were there.
“Mmh...a million reasons.” Valeera’s voice was quiet. Subdued. Relaxed in a way Liadrin hadn’t heard it in days. “Mostly I don’t wanna lose you. I don’t wanna do something stupid and make you angry. This is...a big deal. Even if it is only temporary. This is where you find out who I really am. Maybe I get fuckin’ Cheeto dust on the arm of the sofa. Maybe I push the trash down so many times the bag tears when you inevitably have to take it out. And maybe you get tired of those things, y’know?”
“Mm-mm. I sure don’t.” Liadrin responded, stroking her thumbs down either side of Valeera’s spine before she kneaded beneath the nape of Valeera’s neck. “Relax.” She whispered, urging the younger woman’s head forward until she felt the tense muscles that had been fighting it finally give way. “Roll your head. Real slow.” She showed Valeera with gentle pressure from her thumbs, trailing the tips of her fingers up the sides of her neck as she did so. “I know life has been shit so far.” She continued once she moved back to working on her shoulders and, eventually, her upper arms. “This is different. If you’re with me, you’re my priority. That means you’re a hell of a lot more important than furniture, alright? It’s hard to make me mad, Valeera. It really is. But everyone gets mad, yeah? Well, when I get mad - I’ll tell you. Then I’ll tell you why. But it won’t be some big, life-altering thing, alright? I didn’t always have my shit together. Believe me, I didn’t. I don’t expect you to, either.”
“Sounds too good to be true. Like you.”
Maybe from anyone else, that might have been sweet or coy or any number of things. Liadrin knew Valeera meant it, though, and she just pressed a kiss to the wet, freshly cleaned hair on the back of her head. “I’m real. This is real.” Another kiss...and another. Until Valeera was laughing quietly and turning in her arms to half-clamber into a position straddling her lap.
Liadrin peered up at her, unable to help but return the smile curling Valeera’s full lips. “Do you want me to go with you to your meeting tomorrow?”
“You always take me, now.” Valeera rested her arms over Liadrin’s shoulders as she settled down against her. It had taken them a while, but they’d finally gotten to a point where they could be near each other without it turning into more. Sometimes. Every now and then.
“I mean go to the meeting with you. Be there for you. It couldn’t hurt.” Liadrin faltered, then, and Valeera frowned as she dropped her gaze. “That was stupid. I’m overstepping. I’m sorry.”
“I’m living with you. I don’t think that was overstepping.” Valeera answered immediately. “It’d be really cool of you. Like, if you came in with me. Nobody’s ever done that before.”
Liadrin lifted her gaze slowly as Valeera worked some of her damp hair away from her face and then began to trace the lines of her features with her fingertips. “I’d love to, then. Don’t let me look stupid.”
Valeera smirked and reached for the plug between Liadrin’s legs, tugging it out to drain the water before she rather unceremoniously pulled herself out and walked across the tile floor for a towel, leaving Liadrin sulking in the water. The slight pout didn’t last long, though, when Liadrin approached the tub, still dripping water everywhere, but holding the towel out.
“Are you being sweet?” Liadrin asked in a rather gentle murmur as she stood and found herself at a loss for further words when Valeera wrapped her in the towel when she stepped out of the tub.
“Nah.” Valeera responded. “You take care of me all the time.” The drying wasn’t sexy. Wasn’t suggestive. Just drying. First her hair, once her body was no longer dripping, then the rest of her. “I thought I’d give it a try.”
Liadrin fastened the towel around her own chest as Valeera finally let it go and watched in surprise as Valeera then crossed the room to pull a towel down for herself off the towel rack near the two-person vanity a few feet away. “I like it, by the way.”
Liadrin was still staring after Valeera, now waiting for her to continue as she reached out to touch over a few odds and ends on the vanity. “Taking care of you, I mean. Hey, where’s your stuff gonna go?” She asked, looking all too serious as she continued toweling off her wild mane of hair and looked over her shoulder at the older woman. “Because I’m gonna need both sides of this.”
It took a minute, but the feigned look of confusion on Valeera’s face broke into a smile. And then a grin.
“You’re dangerous.” Liadrin observed in a tone Valeera couldn’t help but appreciate. She appreciated it so much she crossed the room and leaned in as though she were about to grace Liadrin’s lips with a kiss, only to nip the lower one gently before pulling away.
“You scared, Ms. Officer?” She asked, and behind that glint of mischief - there was the barest hint of concern. The tiniest bit of worry. For her. For Liadrin.
Liadrin, who shook her head faintly - was stunned by the tenderness behind the younger woman’s actions. “Fuck it. Yeah. Yeah, I am. I just don’t care anymore. I’m here for this, and I’m here for you.”
The mischief was gone, now, and there was no more mask in front of the softness in Valeera’s eyes as she leaned in again - only this time, she did kiss Liadrin. In a gentle way that she never had before. Maybe because she’d never felt the emotion it required to touch someone the way she touched Liadrin.
“Y’know, I’ve never been much of a cuddler.” Valeera finally broke the silence that had fallen over them as she began undoing the wrap of Liadrin’s towel now that she was acceptably dry.
“Are you asking if we can cuddle, Valeera?” Liadrin lifted her arms a bit for Valeera to pull her towel away.
Valeera sighed and walked both their towels to the hooks near the standalone shower by the door before swinging it open and heading for the bedroom to flop down on the wonderfully crisp sheets Liadrin had only just put on the bed that evening. Liadrin, meanwhile, watched her from her spot in the doorway where she was leaned with her arms crossed beneath her chest. She watched Valeera until her head popped up. Until green eyes narrowed at her in faint irritation.
“Alright.” Liadrin sighed as she finally paced across the floor to the bed. “Let’s cuddle.”
Chapter 8: Sunny
Valeera hadn’t spoken since the meeting. Since she’d sat stock still next to Liadrin, at first clutching her hand - and then slowly letting it go.
When she’d asked for space when they got back home, Liadrin had sat in nervous silence in the living room. For hours. She’d listened to Valeera run water for a shower. She’d listened to what she was sure Valeera had thought were adequately muffled sobs.
Liadrin had waited for as long as she could. She’d tugged at her hair and bent over her own knees for as long as she could stand it.
And now, here she was. Reaching out tentatively to rest a hand along Valeera’s bare shoulder. “Baby? Please.”
She could have sobbed when Valeera didn’t pull away from her touch.
“You don’t wanna hear what I have to say,” Valeera whispered in reply, only pulling the pillow she’d been clutching closer to her chest as she lay there facing away from the other woman on her side. Liadrin glanced up long enough to discover it was her own pillow that Valeera had pulled over to her side of the bed to hold onto so tightly.
Liadrin ran over everything she knew in her mind. About addiction. About abuse. Oh, it was a wealth of information...but it wasn’t necessarily from the right point of view. Not all of it, anyway. And sometimes it was difficult to thread through the specifics.
“I...disagree.” She began carefully. “I have never, ever not wanted to hear what you have to say.” Liadrin swallowed thickly when she got no response. “Do you want me to stop touching you?”
“Please don’t.” Valeera sounded terrified, suddenly. Liadrin moved further onto the bed - until her folded leg was resting along the length of Valeera’s back through the sheets she had bundled herself in and she could lean down to press her face into the younger woman’s hair.
“Tell me. Don’t go through it alone when you don’t have to.”
“Can you please just hold me?” Valeera asked - her voice cracking slightly when the tremor in it became too much for her to control.
Within seconds, Liadrin had moved into the bed and pressed herself along Valeera’s back. Even more quickly, Valeera tugged Liadrin’s arm around herself and abandoned the pillow in favor of pressing her face against the back of the other woman’s hand.
“I”m here,” Liadrin whispered into Valeera’s hair. Over and over again. Between kisses and strokes of her thumb across Valeera’s knuckles. Until her quick, shuddering breaths slowed into something manageable.
That’s when her thoughts cleared enough for the shame to wash in and threaten to drown her. Valeera’s lips worked as if to speak but said nothing and Liadrin splayed her hand out along her chest, pressing against it warmly. Guiding her breathing with steady, gentle pressure.
Liadrin felt the panic melt away when it finally did. She felt it in the relaxing of every painfully tense muscle in Valeera’s legs and back. She let out a shuddering sigh, herself when it happened.
“Are you with me?” Liadrin asked, slowly moving her hand up to turn Valeera’s chin so she could see her face. “I want you here with me.”
Valeera nodded and slowly turned onto her other side. Liadrin made every effort to make this easier - untangling the sheets fo her and re-settling them once the other woman seemed comfortable.
“Whenever you’re ready. Okay? And not before. I have all the time in the world for you and I always will.”
“You aren’t helping,” Valeera admitted quietly, wincing and hiding her face underneath Liadrin’s chin as soon as the words left her.
“I’m sorry.” Liadrin tried to work out what to say - what to do...she wasn’t used to not knowing what to do. She hated not knowing what to do.
“You’re so stupid.” Valeera continued, and Liadrin barely managed to keep from wincing. “You think this is your fault or some shit, I know you do. You think it’s your stupid fault that you’re too good. I shouldn’t have let you come to that fucking meeting. How’s that your fault? How the fuck is any of this your fault?”
It seemed like the more Valeera said, the tighter she needed to cling to Liadrin. But Liadrin wasn’t going anywhere. There was no fucking way she was going anywhere.
“I shouldn’t have let you sit there with me fucking listening to those people. Because I can’t even tell you I’m not like them. I’m just. Like. Them.” Valeera swallowed past the painful lump in her throat and gathered some of Liadrin’s shirt in her fist so tightly it nearly tore. “Do you wanna know why you’re stupid? Because you could have so much more than this. You could have some...some perfect bitch with no issues and a fucking education and a good job who isn’t fucking rotting from the inside out from something she has no control over. You could have everything. Have you seen yourself? You’re so smart and so pretty and you do every motherfucking thing right. How’m I ever gonna be good enough?”
There it was. Again. And it took the breath out of the room.
“You’re having a panic attack,” Liadrin explained quietly - keeping her voice as even as she could. “But that doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t real. And we’re going to address them. Okay? As soon as things start making sense, we’ll work through all of that. But right now, can you tell me what you need from me?”
Valeera shook her head. She was so fucking sick of crying. And that soft, low voice full of endless patience was just driving her further towards the edge.
“Can I say something, baby?” Liadrin murmured that question against Valeera’s forehead as she stroked over her hair.
Valeera nodded weakly.
“You’re nothing like any of them. I love you with all of me. Absolutely every particle in my body loves you and only you. And no one else. And I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you.”
“I’m never gonna get out of this, am I?” Valeera finally managed to ask. “I’m never gonna stop asking you the same questions. Never gonna stop until you’re tired of how much I need from you.”
“You will,” Liadrin responded with so much conviction that it slowed the racing of Valeera’s thoughts for a moment. “Maybe you’ll always need something from me. Maybe it’ll be a hundred times a day. Maybe it’ll be once a month. Once a year. I don’t care. I’ll tell you every single time that you’re the only person in this world for me. These aren’t your problems, okay? They’re ours. And I chose that. I choose it every day and I’ll keep right on because I’m a stubborn asshole and you’re not gonna talk me out of it.”
Valeera, at least, had the presence of mind to let those words soak in. To let them soothe all the raw edges that she felt made up her entire being.
“Why’s it so scary to tell you that I love you, too?” Valeera asked - sounding more exhausted than Liadrin had ever heard her.
“It’s like that for people like us.” Liadrin replied, meeting Valeera’s questioning gaze. “For people who grew up the way we did. It’s normal to not understand love. To fear it, because if you extend that - you’re opening yourself up to so much cruelty that it’s unimaginable for most people. That’s why I’m never gonna leave you. That’s why I’m never gonna make you regret it.”
“You make a lot of promises.”
“I know. And I know they might sound like bullshit to you sometimes. But I mean them.”
Valeera eventually turned back over, and while she was getting settled, Liadrin managed to tug her shoes off and nudge them onto the floor before moving to get under the covers with her.
“Take your clothes off.” Valeera requested quietly as she tried to focus her vision on the far wall. “I just wanna feel you if that's cool. We don't have to do anything.”
“No. We don't.” Liadrin replied firmly, intent upon reassuring Valeera that that was absolutely true. She slipped out of the bed and Valeera listened to her rush to get out of her clothing. It almost made her smile.
The feeling of Liadrin’s warm skin against her back, though...that was what she needed right now. She needed to bend one of her legs to tangle it between the other woman’s. She needed to feel those fingertips trailing goosebumps along her side.
This was where she was easily convinced. When she could be naked and exposed with Liadrin and lay there knowing nothing was expected of her. As if to further convince herself, she turned once again to face her.
Liadrin’s only response was to hold an arm out and fold Valeera into her chest. So Valeera kissed her. A soft kiss. A slow one. One that Liadrin returned with a hand beneath her chin but didn't deepen.
“You smell good.” Liadrin remarked against her lips before kissing her again.
“So do you.”
Liadrin huffed quietly. It might have been a laugh. “I smell like coffee.”
Valeera shrugged faintly. “You smell like you. It's my favorite.”
There was something so raw and open about all this. Something Liadrin felt a desperate need to protect.
“I'm going to use a personal day tonight.” Liadrin said as though it were just a fact. An inevitability.
“You don't need to do that. I'll just sleep while you're gone.”
But Valeera wanted her here. Fuck, she wanted her here.
“I'd rather you slept with me, if that's alright.”
“Just...not all the time. You can't do this all the time. Okay? I have to be able to make it without you constantly here. It's important.”
Liadrin listened to those words carefully as she found Valeera’s hand against her chest and lifted it - splaying their fingers together while Valeera spoke. It occurred to Valeera, when she finished, that she'd never met someone with kinder eyes.
“It won't be all the time. Maybe I need you tonight, too. Is that something you're okay with?”
Valeera’s thoughts came to a screeching halt. It felt almost physically violent. Had...had anyone ever needed her? In her entire fucking life? Literally ever?
She couldn't think of a single time. Instead of breaking her, this thought only drew her closer to Liadrin. She guided the fingers that had been pressed along her own into her hair, and Liadrin twined them there slowly, stroking behind the long, delicate length of Valeera's ear with her thumb.
“What do you need?” Valeera asked carefully, and Liadrin watched as a furrow settled between the younger woman's brows for a moment before it was gone.
“A lot, to be honest. I need you to feel safe when you're in my arms. I need you to know that all I expect from you is as much honesty as you can give me. I need to hear you watching TV in the other room when I'm sleeping in the mornings and you laugh a little too loud and it wakes me up because it makes me feel so fucking whole inside to hear you laugh.” Liadrin caught a tear as it slipped down Valeera’s face. She cradled it, then, just in case any more came.
“I just need you. I need this. And I can't tell you why. I can't tell you why I love you or why you make everything more worthwhile. I just need you to know that I do. That you do. Those are the things I need.”
“You don't want to find me an apartment.” Valeera managed to say past the thick feeling in her voice.
Liadrin shook her head as her ears sank back against her head slightly. “I really, really don't. But I absolutely will, if that's what's best for you.”
“You're what's best for me, I think. I want to be better for me so that I can be better for you. I want you to have all those things that you need but without the worry. Because you worry all the time. You move around me like I'm made of eggshells and broken glass and I've never wanted anything the way I want you to not have to do that. I promise I'm trying. Every day. I'm trying for both of us.”
“I promise I believe you.” Liadrin sounded so earnest that it almost came across as desperate. It was so real. So right there that Valeera slowly dipped her head down to press her face into Liadrin’s neck. A moment or two later, there was a soft, whispered ‘I love you’, and Liadrin was worried she tightened her arms so much in response that it might have hurt her.
But Valeera was content in that grasp, and it relaxed soon enough as they both drifted in and out of consciousness.
Liadrin has always been a light sleeper, anyway. It came from growing up the way she did followed by years of always being on-call. Of having to snap herself awake at a moment’s notice and respond to this or that.
Tonight, though, when her eyes opened in the darkness of their room only an hour or two before dawn - her heart hammered in her chest at the low rumble of exhaust in the street beyond the driveway. Unfamiliar. This house was on a cul-de-sac. And then, she heard a car door slam shut.
She pulled away from Valeera and grabbed her service weapon before Valeera even knew what was happening. A moment later, she was pressed near the bedroom window - drawing the curtain aside so subtly no one outside would have even noticed.
Eyes as sharp and seasoned as hers would never have missed that tag number. No, she'd never seen this car before. It had no business parking in front of her house. It had no business screeching brakes when it met an unexpected dead-end and had to turn around and drive back by.
Valeera’s voice was trembling with both sleep and worry from where she sat up in bed, and when the car was no longer in sight, Liadrin finally breathed again. “Go back to sleep.” She responded, making her way back across the room to holster her gun and place it back on the dresser. “It's okay.”
Valeera didn't lay back down right away. She waited for Liadrin to come back to bed and watched her carefully as she sat with her back against the headboard, then reached out to stroke over her stomach when she realized how tense it was. How rapidly Liadrin was breathing.
Liadrin glanced down as Valeera moved close enough to lay her head in her lap, and started playing with her hair almost instantly. She wasn't sure whether it was to comfort Valeera, or herself. “There was a car outside. It's gone now. Go back to sleep.”
Valeera was so exhausted that it was difficult to argue, and sleep she did. Even as unsettled as she was.
Liadrin waited until Valeera’s breathing had been light and steady for a long time before she finally reached for her phone and opened her last text to Lor’themar.
Are you on tonight?
Yeah. What's up? Everything okay? Can't remember the last time you took a day off.
I need you to run a tag for me. Call me when you get a hit.
Valeera hadn't even stirred in her lap. Liadrin had never done anything more carefully in her life than easing her slowly off her thigh and into the pillows she'd been leaning against.
She'd even made sure her phone was on silent, despite the fact that she'd padded quietly to the other end of the house while she waited for Lor’themar’s call back.
Dispatch must have been busy. This was taking forever. So long, in fact, that Liadrin began nodding off where she was leaned up against the washing machine in the utility room by the time the phone began buzzing in her hand.
“Registered to Kael’thas Sunstrider. Goes by Sunny.”
“Too many to count. Trafficking, assault, kidnapping. Rap sheet a mile long. ...Li, what's going on?”
“Nothing. Flicked me off in traffic earlier. Probably just recognized the unmarked.”
“Do we need to put a car on him?”
“No. This is off the record. I've had worse things than birds shot at me.”
“Feel better, then. Coffee soon?”
Liadrin slid the call closed realized her heel had been bouncing against the tile floor at almost the same time she noticed her palms had been sweating.
Going back to bed was a battle.
Sleep was impossible.
Chapter 9: Officer What?
They had dinner together before Liadrin went to work. They spent a lot of days on the couch with Liadrin’s legs propped up on the coffee table so that it was easier for Valeera to sprawl along the rest of the sofa with her head in her lap and feed her popcorn or whatever other snack she'd chosen.
And sometimes, on afternoons like this when neither of them had anything to do and Valeera had spent the better part of the morning stealing her night owl’s covers - Valeera got to wake up first. She got to force the sleep out of her eyes and watch the way the sun brought out the red in the hair that was fanned out over Liadrin’s pillow.
She got to watch as the curves of her chest rose and fell and the faint lines of muscle in her stomach shifted with her slow, even breathing. She got to look, unashamedly, at the result of her thievery in the scant amount of sheet that was left barely covering one of Liadrin’s legs.
Sometimes, she got to fall in love with Liadrin all over again...want her like it was the first time. All over again.
It was too much, suddenly. It was too much to just lay there and be overwhelmed by someone else’s presence and the burning desire to have them know what that presence meant...and to know she would never have the words.
So she touched. First, just above the knee that was bent underneath that single corner of material. Gently. Slowly. Higher - until the soft, sleep-warmed skin of Liadrin’s thigh was passing beneath her fingertips.
That earned her a slight shift in breathing. A flutter of eyelids.
She moved closer, but carefully. Valeera had never had much patience, but she had it now. She had it as she leaned over Liadrin's thigh and brushed her nose against the crook of it before moving further inward. She wanted to tell her. She wanted to tell her that this was the prettiest pussy she'd ever seen. Because, god, it was.
Valeera told her with her tongue in lieu of words as she flattened it and ran the heat of it along her slit slowly until Liadrin’s thigh tensed beneath her chest and began to raise. Until strong hips flexed up against her mouth for more attention and a series of breathy noises that ended in a quiet whine told her Liadrin was awake.
It was an almost strange sensation. Liadrin wasn't aroused. Not yet. And as consciousness flooded her, that fact only made the moment more intimate. Because Valeera knew that. And, instead of going right for her clit, she was just stroking along either side of it with her tongue. She was getting her there. Like she had all the time in the world. In fact, when Liadrin reached for the sheets to gather them into her hands, the languid motions of Valeera’s tongue stopped entirely. Turned into just the faintest brushes of her lips as she spoke.
“Don't do that.”
Valeera’s hands moved to Liadrin’s own and her lips against the softness above her clit. They stroked over her fingers until they relaxed and released the sheets and she was no longer bearing down to in search of a level of pleasure that would bring her to orgasm more quickly.
Honestly, Liadrin was used to having at least some control. If not all of it. But there was something to be said for slowly relaxing back into the bed and letting her head roll just enough to look down at Valeera, who was looking right back up with her.
“Don't chase it like that. Not right now.” Valeera continued as she dragged her lips across Liadrin’s pelvis to nip gently at her hip. “I'll find it for you. I promise.”
“Good morning to you, too…” Liadrin finally breathed as Valeera ran her hands along her inner thighs - applying just enough pressure to let Liadrin know she wanted them spread wider. She complied.
“Good morning.” Valeera husked on her way back to where she wanted to be. Where Liadrin most definitely wanted her to be. “I'm going to make you come a few times if that's okay with you.”
Liadrin mumbled her ascent and started lifting her hand towards Valeera’s hair as it fell against her. She gathered it lazily and held it loosely against the bale of the other woman's neck as Valeera smiled against her skin and got comfortable between her legs.
Once again, Valeera’s tongue parted her. But this time, when it grazed her clit, Liadrin shuddered almost imperceptibly and she inhaled sharply.
“That's it,” Valeera whispered, sliding one of her hands from Liadrin’s thigh to her pelvis so she could lift the hood of her clit with her thumb - exposing it fully as her eyes flicked up to find Liadrin’s shut. “Get wet for me, baby, fuck. That's so hot. ...Look.”
Liadrin took her time opening her eyes and focusing her vision. She let her lips curl into an appreciative, if not dazed smile. The hand not currently holding Valeera’s hair moved - her fingertips traced the line of Valeera’s jaw before she traced across the other woman’s glistening lips with her thumb. “Suck my clit.” She husked as she continued holding Valeera’s bright, focused green eyes in her own half-gone gaze. “Please.”
“If you relax again.” Valeera shifted her thumb. Just a little. Just enough to give the sensitive skin she was holding the smallest tug. Enough to make Liadrin’s head fall back against the pillow and her thighs go tense.
But she managed to reign it in. She managed to take a slow, steadying breath and, with the help of Valeera’s hand kneading her thigh and stroking along her leg, she did what Valeera wanted her to.
And then it felt like she was drowning in an ocean of fire that licked at her skin without burning her as Valeera’s lips surrounded her and her thumb moved away. The sound she made probably shouldn’t have been all that attractive, but god did Valeera love it. So fucking much.
Valeera knew what this did to Liadrin. She knew how Liadrin liked the slow, gentle sucking and being able to feel the pressure the subtle movements of her jaw provided. And she gave her just that. Coupled with steady, unwavering little strokes of her tongue.
It was hard for Liadrin to not pull Valeera closer. To not try to hurry this along with the younger woman’s pleasure in mind. But the longer it went on - the longer Liadrin’s thighs twitched and trembled - the less she could focus on anything but pure physical sensation.
And how sinfully all-encompassing Valeera’s gentle thoroughness really was.
Liadrin wasn't sure that she'd ever just basked in anything like this. The slow, steady swell of her orgasm came over her like a tide and her chest heaved and Valeera reached up to stroke across it when it did. To ride it out with her as her body shook and arched and her thighs closed in against the younger woman’s face.
It took a while for Liadrin to relax back into the bed, and when she finally did it felt like she melted into it. The way Valeera was kissing her way up her stomach and stroking along her thighs and hips made actually getting up the furthest thing from a priority.
“Why are you so fuckable when you first wake up?” Valeera asked in a breathy, husky tone against the underside of the curve of Liadrin’s breast. Liadrin was still panting when Valeera’s teeth found her nipple and gave it a playful tug.
“Shit.” That curse came with the bite of nails digging into the nape of Valeera's neck where Liadrin's hand was still resting. “I don't have an answer to that. Are you trying to do something about it?”
“You mean am I trying to fuck?” Valeera asked - a wonderful mixture of amusement and arousal and just a hint of cockiness in her voice as it came out in a murmur against Liadrin's shoulder.
Liadrin was surprised at the strength in Valeera's hands when they gripped her hips and tugged them so they were flush against her own. “Yeah. I am. Are you into it?”
“Yeah. Fuck yeah, I am. Put your hair up. My hand’s getting tired.”
Valeera snorted quietly as she knelt up and shifted the hair tie from around her wrist into her hair as she pulled it up into a quick, messy bun. “Needy bottom.”
“First of all-”
Valeera laughed and reached over to the nightstand to retrieve the harness that was a regular guest star of their sex life, though not usually in this capacity.
“Officer Cock Slut.”
“That's better.” Liadrin’s response came as Valeera tightened the straps of the harness to fit her leaner stature, and she nearly choked.
Liadrin’s expression shifted into something slightly more serious as she took in the sight of Valeera in the harness and pushed herself up slowly before reaching out to rest a hand along her hip.
“That was kind of hot, that’s all.” Liadrin continued - her voice low and measured, though she was still smiling faintly. She dipped her head to catch Valeera’s gaze, then. “Right?”
Valeera nodded faintly and stroked some of Liadrin’s hair behind one of her ears. “Yeah.”
On her knees, Liadrin moved until they were pressed together, then guided Valeera to sit back so she could straddle her lap. She was only encouraged by the feeling of Valeera’s hands coming to rest along the undersides of her thighs. She wanted Valeera to feel this. To feel what she gave Liadrin all the time.
Everything in the room seemed to tilt on its axis for Valeera when a warm breath ghosted over her ear as Liadrin’s lips brushed against it when she spoke again. “You still tryna fuck?”
Liadrin’s lips parted in a little grin against her cheek, then, and Valeera’s ears lifted as she found herself tumbling on top of Liadrin to settle between her legs.
Despite the trust that had built between them in this area - the easiness they’d fallen into here over the months they’d been together - there was still a question in Valeera’s eyes as she lined the tip of the toy up. One that Liadrin answered by reaching between them and wrapping her hand around Valeera’s. She guided her forward firmly and Valeera was fairly certain her soul might have left her body when she first felt Liadrin arch up against her and whimpered when there was no more space left between them.
The curse that left Valeera's lips was muffled by a breathless kiss from Liadrin. “Yeah.” Liadrin encouraged in a whisper in response. “It’s so good, isn’t it…”
And it was. It was so good to move her hips a little harder and have Liadrin gasp against her neck. It was so good to feel Liadrin’s fingertips touching gently along her sides...and then, not so gently digging into her back.
They didn’t roll out of bed until they were both too hungry and thirsty to ignore it anymore and Liadrin had given back as good as she’d gotten and then some. Then, they shambled towards the kitchen in between kisses and touches and even a sharp smack to Liadrin’s ass that took her by surprise and had Valeera steadying her until they were leaned against the kitchen island chugging water like their lives depended upon it.
It had been so fucking healing. For both of them. So easy and normal and perfect.
“Like a fairytale.”
“Hm?” Liadrin asked as she glanced down at Valeera, whose head was resting against her chest. They were on the floor for whatever reason. The bedroom and the living room had seemed equally far away…and this had seemed like a good idea at the time.
“You. This. Everything. It’s perfect, and I fuckin’ love you.”
Liadrin twirled some of Valeera’s hair in her fingers and wrapped an arm around her. “Yeah. Yeah we’re really getting there, aren’t we? I fuckin’ love you, too.”
Liadrin nodded, but she lingered over the back of the couch as Valeera caught the back of her neck and deepened their goodnight kiss.
“Got time for a quickie?” Valeera murmured against her lips.
“Mm-mm. Not after that shower we took.” But she kissed Valeera again, anyway, and Valeera rested a hand on her chest - catching the edge of the kevlar vest she was wearing under her shirt just to make sure it was there. That it was secure.
“I’ll see you in the morning. You have work, right?”
Valeera watched Liadrin head for the door with her cheek on the back of the couch. “Yeah. And a meeting after.”
“I’ll bring breakfast home with me, then.”
They exchanged quick ‘I love you’s before the door shut and Liadrin was gone.
Kael’thas had been tailing her for three weeks, now, off and on.
It wasn’t always in the same car. But Liadrin knew it was him. He was usually waiting within a couple of miles of her neighborhood. He usually waited until just the right time to start whatever vehicle he was driving so that Liadrin would see his headlights flash on.
Tonight was different, though. Tonight, Liadrin didn’t have her mic on.
Tonight, Liadrin’s dash cam wasn’t working.
Tonight - Liadrin had taken an entirely different route...and wound up behind him, instead. She followed him for a while. Took a couple of turns behind him until he rolled through a stop sign and she flicked her lights on for a moment.
She turned them off again, though, when he pulled to the side of the road and she put her car in park.
She approached the driver’s side of his car with an almost eerie calm - her eyes watching for any movement through tinted windows carefully.
He rolled down his window before she even passed the trunk.
“License and registration.”
“What seems to be the problem officer?”
“You ran that stop sign.” Liadrin replied dryly as her sharp eyes followed the man’s hands when they retrieved what she asked for. She gave them both a token glance before passing them back and leaning forward to rest her left hand on top of his car. “And I need you to tell me what the fuck you were doing at my house last month and why the fuck you've been following me.”
Kael’thas smirked and Liadrin felt a level of rage she was unused to feeling rise along the nape of her neck in burning tingles of sensation.
“It's not about you, Officer. Am I being detained, by the way? You can write me for that stop sign. Or you can arrest me for that suspended license. That's probably the proper course of action. Ball’s in your court.”
“Step out of the vehicle.”
Liadrin didn't wait for him to open the door. She opened for him. Her size was deceiving. She swept him onto the ground and had a knee in his back before he'd even lost the cocky expression he'd been wearing.
Her fangs were bared as she lowered her face towards his. “I don't have time to fuck around. And you don't want this. Trust me, you don't. How do you know Valeera?”
“Valeera?” He asked, though he'd poured a little too much false confusion into the question. That earned him a little more weight between his shoulder blades.
He grunted and clenched his jaw in response. “Didn't realize you were one of those cops.”
“I'm not.” Liadrin replied without hesitation. “What do you want with her?”
“Get your knee out of my fucking back. I don't have to tell you anything. You didn't even call this in. Your radio is off. Haven't heard it this entire time.”
“Very astute of you. But I don't know why that's more reassuring for you than it is troubling.”
Kael’thas went quiet for a moment. That hadn't occurred to him.
“I was just checking in on an old friend. Didn't mean to rustle any feathers.”
Liadrin slowly lifted her knee, but she kept a hand on his shoulder long enough to tug him up from the ground. Her eyes stayed on his as she adjusted her jacket and reached out to open his door for him. “She's doing just fine. Get in.”
Kael'thas was careful not to brush against her as he got back into the driver's seat. The physical side of the business he was in wasn't really his thing...and he was glad to be back in his car once he made it there.
“I didn't catch your name, Officer.”
“I didn't give it to you.”
Kael’thas lifted a brow, then, and tilted his head. “I'm curious about something, if you have a moment before you go make anyone else’s life hell.”
Liadrin didn't respond. Nor did she turn away.
“Did you have her tested before you started fucking her? I'm just concerned for your safety, that's all. I did my best with her, but the things she would do for a fix-”
He trailed off when Liadrin pulled her jacket to the side. She didn't have to reach for the weapon that was holstered there to get the message across. He'd been expecting to rile her up. To find some sort of temper there. But he hadn't. And the fact that she was calm was unsettling enough for him to recognize it might be in his best interest to give up his little game for the evening.
“Were you the one, then? The one that did this to her?” Liadrin asked as she let her jacket settle back into its place.
“She was fucked when I found her. All I did was make an investment.” The sneer this statement came with almost earned him the reaction he'd been looking for. Almost.
“I've got your return right here if I see you again. Come looking for it. I dare you.”
Kael'thas chuckled, and Liadrin stepped towards the car. “Give me your phone.”
His face fell immediately.
Liadrin held out her hand as her eyes narrowed.
He didn't even bother to stop the recording when he reached into his pocket and placed it roughly into her palm.
“You were almost clever.” Liadrin remarked as she looked down at the screen and then slid the device into her jacket. “Oh. I almost forgot.”
She reached for the papers on the roof of his car and passed them to him through his still open window. “Watch those stop signs.”
Liadrin had always been a very contained, level-headed person. She'd almost always done things by the book. It was hard to shake her. She'd seen it all.
So why were her hands shaking as she turned her radio back on and got settled in her car. Why did she want nothing more than to go right back home and pull Valeera into her arms and tell her a million times that she was good and worthwhile?
She spent the rest of her shift on edge. It was so bad, she almost forgot to pick up breakfast on her way home.
In fact, she might have done just that if she didn't glance down at her phone on her console when it buzzed as she pulled up outside the station to clock out.
Morning. Miss you. Hungry. Come home.
She hadn't smiled all night. Not until she opened the screen to read those words again, only to see that Valeera was still typing.
You said breakfast.
I did. I'll be there soon. Promise.
Chapter 10: One Day at a Time
Liadrin lifted her eyes from the magazine she’d really only been pretending to read. Her wine glass was untouched beside the armchair she was half-curled in. And she regretted that when she focused her attention on Valeera, who looked forlorn where she set on the end of the couch closest to where Liadrin was. “I’m sorry.”
Valeera had been expecting an explanation...or something. Anything.
“You’ve been quiet for days.” Valeera continued, though the words sounded like they were difficult for her to get out. “Are you...are we…what did I do wrong?”
Liadrin’s brow furrowed and she sat the magazine aside quickly, unfolding her legs from beneath herself so she could reach over and take Valeera’s hand into her own from where it rested on the arm of the couch. “Baby...nothing. You didn’t do anything.”
Valeera swallowed thickly and grasped Liadrin’s hand tightly. Like she was scared to let go. “I thought you were gonna break up with me.” She admitted quietly. “I thought…”
“Come here. Come sit with me.” Liadrin urged gently, giving Valeera’s hand a tug and helping her move to sit in her lap in the soft, oversized chair.
The way Valeera folded herself into Liadrin told the older woman just how worried she’d been, and she was furious with herself for not having picked up on it sooner.
“I’m not breaking up with you. You’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. This is about me. This is about me keeping something from you and being terrible at it.”
Valeera relaxed almost immediately. Like the thought of her having done something was unbearable, but Liadrin could get away with whatever she wanted because...why? Because she could. They both knew it. They both knew just how low the bar was. But Liadrin did her best to act as though it wasn’t. She did her best to show Valeera just how much she deserved. It was just...a process.
“Okay.” Valeera finally replied, resting her cheek on Liadrin’s shoulder and tracing the v-shaped line of the collar of the shirt she’d been lounging in. “You fuck somebody else?”
For a moment, Liadrin was stunned. So much so, that she didn’t know what to say. There was something about how casual that question had been...and the utter lack of accusation that had been behind it.
“If you did, you don’t gotta tell me. Or you can tell me. I don’t give a shit. It’s okay. If there’s something I’m not doing, though, that you want...I don’t know. Maybe you could tell me what that is and we could figure it out.”
“Valeera.” Liadrin finally managed to speak and she stopped Valeera from moving her hand at the same time, holding onto it firmly as she looked down at her with her brows furrowed and her eyes wide. “I didn’t fucking cheat on you. Please.”
Valeera averted her attention to the arm of the chair, and Liadrin reached up to lift her chin as she stroked over her back with her free hand. “I wouldn't. Okay?”
“Yeah.” Valeera responded softly, shifting in Liadrin’s lap so that they were as close as they could be. “Then what's going on?”
Liadrin's eyes shut for a moment as she tried to put her thoughts back on the track they'd been on. “How do you know Kael’thas Sunstrider?”
Valeera tended immediately, but Liadrin waited for her answer with all the patience in the world.
“Terrible reasons. Ones that you'd hate. Drugs, for one. The hard stuff. I...I don't really wanna talk about it. About the rest. Liadrin, please tell me what's going on.”
“Do you remember a while back when you woke up in the middle of the night? I had my gun and I was standing by the window.”
“Yeah. Fuck, you think I forgot that?”
“The car was his.” Liadrin explained, watching as confusion, and then anger passed across Valeera’s features. “And he's been following me ever since. I stopped him the other night. Did some things I probably shouldn't have. Dropped him. Threatened him. Flashed my gun.”
“I took his phone. He was recording me. I'm not entirely convinced he wasn't using me to try to blackmail you and I need to know why.”
Valeera looked shaken, and Liadrin felt the anger she'd failed to control that night welling up in her chest like a sickness.
“He doesn't like when people leave.” Valeera said quietly. “And I bet he really doesn't like that you're a cop.”
“Valeera, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I know how hard this has been, and how hard you've worked. I never meant to make it harder.”
Valeera was shocked at the idea that Liadrin was the one who was sorry. So much so, in fact, she couldn't help the incredulous look she shot her in response. “How are you the one who's sorry, when I've done nothing but turn your life upside-down since I met you?”
“You haven't done that at all. Don't let yourself fall into that cycle tonight. It's my job to protect people from people like him. What makes you think I wouldn't want to protect you just as much, if not more? Because I will. If he hurt you before, I...I can't change that. But if he tries it again-”
“You aren't that person.” Valeera whispered quickly as she reached out to stroke across Liadrin’s chest. She sounded so earnest. She looked it too, when she caught Liadrin’s eyes with her own. “You're not.”
Liadrin matched that look with a certain measure of grim determination that was softened by the way her hands moved along Valeera’s thighs when the other woman moved to straddle her lap.
“Would you leave me if I told you that I am?” Liadrin’s voice was low and quiet, and Valeera shook her head faintly as she bent to kiss the corner of her lips. “Valeera, there's no limit to what I would do for you. There's nothing I wouldn't do to keep you safe. Nothing.”
“No.” The answer was short and simple. And Valeera meant it. “I would love that part of you, too.”
Liadrin couldn't be sure that the subtle notion of Valeera’s hips wasn't just her getting comfortable in her lap. Not until she lifted her hands and trailed them along the small of Valeera’s back beneath her shirt and she heard the distinct sound of a breath getting caught in the younger woman’s throat.
“If you don't wanna fuck just tell me, and we can pretend I'm not turned on right now. Otherwise, please just shut up and put your fingers in me.”
Liadrin chose the latter option. And Valeera gladly rode out her orgasm in Liadrin's lap with one hand in her hair and the other on the back of the chair. She'd been tense for days. And between that and the sudden relief of knowing that Liadrin wasn't going anywhere were just too much all at once. She needed the affirmation. She needed the distraction, however quick it had been.
It was the ‘after’, though, that Liadrin herself wanted. When Valeera curled against her, panting quietly and stroking along her arms and her stomach. She didn't bother contemplating the implications of any of it. It had been a few days. Valeera was young. It was fine. Nothing to judge her for. Nothing to judge herself for, either, right?
“Where are you?”
Liadrin glanced down at Valeera when that question was murmured into the hand that Valeera had pulled towards her face to shower with kisses.
“Right here. Where else would I be?”
“I dunno. In some fantasy land that doesn't actually exist where everything is right and just and good and your girlfriend isn't turned on by weird stuff.”
“It wasn't weird…”
“It was, but I wasn't apologizing for it.” Valeera bit down gently on one of the tips of Liadrin’s fingers that still tasted like her. Eventually, though, she let go of Liadrin’s hand and sat back in her lap to look at her. “I'm glad we had this talk. Don't wait so long next time. I get scared easy. I'm working on that.”
“I know.” Liadrin breathed as she offered her a reassuring smile. “Hungry?”
“Starving. Also, we ran out of Capri Suns two days ago.”
“Fuck, I'm sorry. I didn't notice. Feel like going out?”
Valeera contemplated the idea for a moment before she finally removed herself from Liadrin's lap. “I'll go out with you, but I'm not putting on a bra, and I'm probably not getting out of the car.”
“What if we were going out out?”
Valeera lifted a brow and crossed her arms over her stomach. “What does out out mean to you?”
“I dunno. Like. A date? We could go dancing or something. I don't work tonight, you don't work in the morning…”
If Liadrin had thought it was going to take some convincing, it was only because she hadn't noticed the uncontrollable smile on Valeera’s face until she finally looked up at her and trailed off.
“I need to shower and get ready. I have time right? Yeah, I have time. I call dibs on the master.” She’d spoken so hurriedly and with so much excitement that Liadrin couldn't have argued if she'd wanted to.
Thankfully, she’d already showered - so Valeera was free to take all the time she wanted to in the bathroom they usually shared. Until Liadrin got bored and went looking for her, anyway.
“Babe?” Liadrin leaned in and glanced towards the bathroom as she hung onto the handle of the bedroom door. “Valeera?”
“I’m putting on my makeup. Let me see you.”
Valeera was expecting...well. Not what she saw, as she took a backwards step and Liadrin stepped into the bedroom at the same time. Suit jacket...Valeera could’ve guessed she’d wear that. It was the fitted, half-undone dress shirt, skinny jeans and heels she hadn’t seen coming. And the long waves of red hair hanging down broad shoulders. It was...the whole package, really, that had her standing there dumbfounded with a mascara wand in her hand. “Oh, shit…”
Liadrin’s ears shifted back and she looked down at herself, then back up at Valeera, who looked absolutely stunning in a little red dress and heels that she’d picked out on a shopping trip so long ago Liadrin had forgotten she’d even bought it for her. “Is it that bad? I haven’t been out in a long time. I can change.”
“No! No, don’t you dare. If you get any hotter I’m going to have to spend the night prying other women off of you.”
Liadrin sighed in relief and moved towards Valeera in the bathroom, hopping up on the counter only to smile faintly as she proceeded to watch her finish applying her mascara.
“You’re just pretty.”
“Can I have a kiss?”
Valeera snorted quietly as she screwed the cap back on the tube. “I’m gonna have to fix my lipstick again in the car if I kiss you.”
“Wait, I don’t get kisses all night just because you’re wearing lipstick?” Liadrin asked - sounding utterly dejected as her ears wilted and her brow furrowed dramatically.
Valeera sighed and stepped in front of her, placing her hands on her knees and tilting her head up. “Alright, then. One kiss.”
Liadrin laughed quietly and leaned in towards Valeera’s lips, though she stopped just short in a way that made Valeera chase after her slightly. “What counts as one?”
“Liadrin…” Valeera sounded a mixture of amused and irritated, because she was.
Liadrin kissed her, then. Just once. Gently. It didn’t even linger that long.
“That was so fucking sweet.” Valeera remarked as she leaned back and worried at the edge of Liadrin’s jacket. “You’re so fucking sweet. Let’s go before I take this off of you and keep you in bed all night.”
Everything about this night was looking up. Even the drive was...just so fucking good. Valeera couldn’t count how many times Liadrin lifted her hand to kiss it. She couldn’t count how many times she looked over to catch her smiling.
Maybe they’d both needed this more than they thought. Liadrin sure did, anyway, judging from the way she acted once she paid the cover and they made their way into the club.
“Loosen up, babe.” Valeera said against her ear once she’d leaned close enough to be heard over the thumping music. She even snuck a quick slide of her hand over the curve of Liadrin’s ass beneath her jacket. “I’m driving home, let me get you a drink. What do you want? A light beer or something? I want you to have fun, not get knocked on your ass.”
“Are you calling me a lightweight?” Liadrin asked in disbelief. “Babe, I’m...c’mon! I’ll take a gin and tonic if you’re buying.”
“Of course I'm buying.” Valeera responded, pressing a quick kiss to Liadrin’s cheek as she slipped the woman’s debit card out of her back pocket where she knew she usually kept it.
While Valeera made her way to the bar, Liadrin avoided the dance floor entirely and found a booth to sit in. Which was fine. Valeera didn't even bother to look at the crowd of people in the center of the club. She knew Liadrin wouldn't be there.
“Gin and tonic for the hottest bitch in the club?”
Liadrin was already laughing when she moved to make room for Valeera and took the drink from her. “You gonna be okay tonight?”
“I'm fine.” Valeera responded, lifting her own drink and shaking it at Liadrin. “Cranberry juice. Booze isn't even my thing. You, though - I got you a double. I need you tipsy ASAP. I have a feeling that's the only way I'm getting you out there.”
The way Liadrin looked at her in response made her ears fall back slightly, and she reached for Liadrin’s thigh under the table to stroke along the length of it beseechingly. “Let me pretend I'm normal, babe. For one night. Let's be normal. Please.”
Liadrin sighed and nodded her head faintly before taking a deep sip from the glass Valeera had handed her. Shit, that was strong.
Strong enough that two drinks in, she was happily being tugged out into the throng of bodies, laughing the entire way at the wicked grin on Valeera’s face.
Liadrin could only be thankful that she was at least sober enough to appreciate the way Valeera moved. Because she could fucking move. From the moment they found enough space to dance in, something in Valeera seemed to change. It was so fucking much.
The headiness of the bass was nothing compared to the feeling of Valeera’s hands running up along her chest beneath her jacket and the thigh pressing between her legs. From there, with a lingering kiss to the side of Liadrin’s neck, Valeera turned so that her back was pressed along the front of Liadrin’s body, and the only place for Liadrin’s hands to go was on Valeera’s hips. Valeera liked that, apparently. At least judging by the way she rolled her body in response.
As it turned out, Liadrin was no slouch, either. Just a little rusty. It just took a little longer for her to get loose - to trace daring touches in places she probably shouldn't have, in front of a crowded room of strangers that were paying them absolutely no mind.
Because suddenly, Liadrin wasn't a detective who worked too hard and thought too little of and for herself. Valeera wasn’t on probation, scrambling for something - for anything at all to grab onto. To make all this worthwhile.
They were just two people who loved each other. Who moved together like they'd been doing it for years and were drawn to each other like magnets. Who sought out each other's lips for searing kisses and heated, whispered words.
“When I get you home…”
“Tell me.” Valeera husked into her ear as they swayed to a slightly slower song and Valeera toyed with a button on Liadrin’s shirt. Neither of them was sure where her jacket had gone. “Tell me what you're gonna do to me.”
Liadrin tried to pull her closer with her hands splayed against her back, but she was already as close as she could be. Close enough that her breaths against the underside of Liadrin’s jaw were sending shudders along her spine.
“I'm gonna fuck you. All night.”
“Are you?” Valeera drawled against Liadrin’s cheek - toying with the thought of biting it as one of the pink strobes of light flashed across them, illuminating them for a moment. “It's gonna be so good, baby. I know it is.”
“Make you forget your name…”
Valeera undid the button. Slid her fingertips just past the material to toy with the edge of Liadrin’s bra. “That's okay.” Valeera murmured as she guided them another few steps towards the edge of the dance floor. “I'll remember yours.”
Valeera didn't get to see this side of Liadrin that often. Their first few times together, sure. You had to be a little unhinged to decide to throw as much caution to the wind as Liadrin had when all this had first started. But now, to see her like this was something rare and special and...incredibly hot.
Especially when she reached between them and ran her hand between Liadrin’s legs over her jeans and Liadrin’s only response was a muffled, breathy groan.
“We should get outta here.” Valeera suggested as she gave the buckle of Liadrin’s belt a gentle tug before she finally moved her hand out from between them.
Liadrin couldn't remember the last time she'd agreed with something more. She also couldn't remember ever having regretted wearing heels as much as she did while they made their way out to the car and her legs complained about every step.
They were already off by the time Valeera got in on the driver’s side and, after a few hurried, unexpected kisses - they were on the road.
Valeera somehow managed to keep her eyes ahead as she felt gentle touching along her knee that eventually trailed high enough to begin sliding the hem of her dress up her thighs before it stopped rather suddenly.
She glanced over with a coy smile already at the ready only to find Liadrin leaned against the passenger door, her head rocking gently with the motion of the car against the window.
Valeera reached for Liadrin’s hand, and instead of moving it, she just held it in her lap - twining their fingers together as a coy smile turned into something softer. Something she had absolutely no control over. Because she'd never loved anyone or anything as much as she loved the sleeping woman next to her.
She took every turn and made every stop as carefully as she could. Just so that when they got home, she could put the car in park and wake Liadrin how she wanted to. With a hand stroking through her hair and a few light kisses to her temple once she managed to leverage herself across the center console.
Liadrin seemed a little startled, and Valeera only smiled and shushed her. “Let's go to bed.”
“Mm-mm. C’mere.” Liadrin pulled Valeera back to her to find her lips in a kiss that was surprisingly well-composed, all things considered. “Not to sleep. Just to bed.”
Valeera chuckled quietly and nodded as she unbuckled Liadrin’s seatbelt for her before she was tugged back once again. She didn't mind it, though. She didn't mind knowing Liadrin wanted her like this. Enough that she couldn't get more than a few inches away from her without a hand on her to stop her from leaving.
Eventually, though, they did make it inside. Liadrin seemed alert. Alert enough, at least, to unzip Valeera’s dress just inside their bedroom door and work it off of her as Valeera began unbuttoning her shirt in turn.
They made slow progress towards the bed. It became even slower when Liadrin reached for the drawer of the nightstand and lifted a brow. “Oh. Okay.”
Liadrin glanced up from the harness she was holding in her hands with a questioning look on her face that only earned another easy, genuine bout of laughter from Valeera.
“I'm gonna go brush my teeth while you figure that out.”
Liadrin sat on the edge of the bed and nodded as she went to work on the first of the buckles.
Valeera had a feeling she knew what she'd see if she turned around when the sound of the harness jingling suddenly stopped.
It didn't make it any less adorable to find Liadrin half tangled in it with her head on their pillows, just as asleep as she'd been on the ride home. It didn't make her chest ache any less. That was something Valeera was slowly coming to terms with. Sometimes you could love someone so much that it hurt. And she loved this tangled mess of red hair and leather straps and bed sheets so much. So fucking much.
There wasn't any disappointment when she turned off their lights and crawled into bed. No irritation as she helped Liadrin off with the harness and fixed the sheets so their were pressed together warmly beneath them - skin to skin. One of Valeera’s favorite feelings.
Liadrin mumbled something against her shoulder as she pressed closer suddenly, and Valeera buried her face in her hair. “I love you. I love you so fucking much. Do you know that?”
“Love you too…” Liadrin moved to lift herself onto one of her elbows, and Valeera’s arms tightened around her.
“Let's sleep, Liadrin. It's okay.”
“I'm sorry.” Liadrin apologized quietly, almost sheepishly as she pulled back just enough to see Valeera’s eyes in the darkness of their bedroom. “We were supposed to have a normal night.”
“It was so good, Liadrin. It was so perfect. Like you. I promise, babe.”
Liadrin used what little focus she had left to accept the softness of the kiss Valeera moved closer to give her. To stroke along her back under the sheets, and to commit Valeera’s insistent, whispered appreciation to her memory.
It really was perfect.
That's all Valeera kept thinking as Liadrin’s breathing evened out in that way that it did every time she fell into a deeper sleep.
Too perfect to worry about whether it would last, or whether she deserved it. At least for tonight.
One day at a time.
And this had turned out to be...fuck.
This was her favorite day.
It really was.
Chapter 11: Let Her Cry
Believe me, I know. And I’m so fucking sorry.
But I can’t do this anymore. I can’t pretend this is the life for me. I can’t pretend I can keep playing house with you.
It just isn’t me. It’s never been me. I’d rather make the choice to fuck it up than fuck it up without meaning to. It’s better this way.
I’m real sorry. I mean that. And I love you. I mean the fuck out of that.
I probably always will.
Please don’t look for me. For your sake.
Please take care of Sponge. I know that’s ballsy of me. But I don’t think I’ll be able to for a while.
Liadrin stared again at the slightly messy handwriting on the twice-crumpled piece of paper in her trembling hand. She ignored the sparkling grape juice and the broken shards of glass scattered across her kitchen floor.
She couldn’t think. She couldn’t breathe. Even attempting to made it feel like her chest was caving in.
She’d thought Valeera was still asleep. She’d thought she’d come home and surprise her with a nice breakfast. A nice glass of something she could actually drink.
She’d thought they would lay in bed together and laugh at some stupid show on TV and that, eventually, Valeera would doze against her chest while she stroked along her back.
Liadrin had thought so many things when she walked through the door. She’d thought so many things as she walked to the bedroom to find the bed empty. As she’d went room to room to find any trace of Valeera gone. Like she’d never been there.
It must have taken her hours. Every bobby pin. Every article of clothing.
Liadrin tried to focus her vision as she looked down at Valeera’s contact picture on her phone and pressed the ‘call’ button again.
We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service. If you feel you have reached this number in error, please-
Liadrin’s head hit the cabinet she was leaned against as she let her phone slip from her hand and tried to steady her breathing.
The next moments were a blur. She shuffled carelessly through the mess she’d made of the kitchen and was strangely aware that the vest beneath her shirt was uncomfortable. That the belt around her waist was heavy.
She was also aware that every inch of her skin felt like it was on fire...and that Valeera still wasn’t in the bedroom. Or the bathroom. Or anywhere else.
Somehow, she wound up standing in front of the fish tank staring numbly at the little creature fanning its gills at her sudden presence.
“Hey.” Liadrin felt the pressure behind her eyes. She felt the discomfort become real pain in the back of her throat.
Sponge didn’t have much to say, though, and Liadrin just reached for his little container of pellets and opened it. It took a while. She just couldn’t get her hands to stop shaking.
He seemed as excited as he usually was about his breakfast, and Liadrin felt her vision blur again as he went after the little dots of food floating on the surface of the water before they could start to sink.
“She’s okay.” Liadrin said, offering him a weak smile. “She probably just needs to think. She’s had a really tough time, you know. But she’s done so good and she’s going to keep doing good. I know she is.”
But Liadrin knew that wasn’t true. Liadrin knew Valeera hadn’t taken any money for a hotel. Liadrin also knew Valeera had removed herself from the bank account Liadrin had set up for her but kept herself on for more reasons than one. She’d already called.
Her smile faded slowly as she grasped for something to hold onto. Something that would make sense of this for her, because that’s how Liadrin worked.
But it just didn’t.
And she felt so fucking empty.
“Tell me what you want, Kael. I mean it. You shouldn’t be here.”
“I’m on public property. What are you going to do, call your pig girlfriend?”
“Don’t talk about her like that.”
“Everyone’s going to be talking about her like that soon if you don’t come outside.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Why would I tell you that? Come outside.”
Valeera hadn’t bothered to put on a jacket. The sinking feeling in her gut was enough to distract her from the cold. She got into the car. A car she’d been in countless times. Kael’thas was strangely silent.
“You aren’t gonna leave us alone are you?” Valeera finally asked quietly, looking down at a hangnail she’d been worrying at for the past few minutes.
“What makes you think I would?” Kael’thas asked with a lift of one of his long, arched brows as he finally turned his attention to her. “You think I’m stupid, or something? How long before you start telling her shit? Or have you already?”
Valeera’s ears sank and she shook her head. “I haven’t told her shit. I put all that behind me. Let it stay there.”
“I can’t do that.” Kael’thas replied cooly. “You need to walk away before you find out you’re more of a rat than you think you are. You know what happens to rats.”
Valeera turned her attention to the car window - looking up at the house she’d been sharing with Liadrin. Thinking about the life they’d built together and every painful, seemingly impossible step she’d taken to get here.
“I took the fall for you. I took that charge for you. That was supposed to be enough.”
Kael’thas chuckled in a way that sent a chill up Valeera’s spine before he responded.
“You don’t make the rules here, Val. Try to remember that.”
“I’m not a rat. And I’m not gonna leave her.”
Valeera winced when Kael’thas slammed a hand into the dash of the car and bared his fangs at her.
“I don’t think you understand. You are absolutely going to leave her. You are going to go gather your things, leave her some bullshit note that doesn’t fucking mention me or anyone else, and you are going to leave.”
“No. Fuck you.” Valeera stated plainly, reaching for the car door and opening it only to find Kael’thas’ hand trapping hers against the handle.
She shot a look in his direction, only to find him holding up a small thumb drive for her to see. “Cops think they’re so smart.” Kael’thas said quietly. Steadily. “I’ve got all the audio I need to burn wifey’s life to the ground. You don’t belong with a cop, Val. You don’t belong in the fucking suburbs.”
She took a couple.
She spent longer than she should have riding. Looking for any sign of Valeera. More than once, she pulled up alongside a woman who only rushed away at the sight of her undercover car. It was never Valeera.
Bourbon helped numb the pain. The pain of loneliness and the pain of having failed the woman she loved so utterly.
It started each morning at the end of her shift and ended with her curled alone on the couch in silence in her living room.
For some reason, though, she kept trying. She kept trying every night for a week when she finally went back to work. Because she had to find her. It had been two weeks since the probation office had last called her in to get tested.
They were going to call any day, now. Then, the judge would issue a warrant.
And as she got more desperate, so did her actions. She was questioning people on the streets. On the corners being occupied by women she thought Valeera might know.
That’s what landed her here. Parked at the station with Lor’themar beside her in her passenger seat - reaching for her shoulder to knead it as he sighed heavily.
“I don’t need you to tell me anything right now.” Liadrin said quietly, though she took great care not to look at him.
“Then why’d you agree to meet?”
Liadrin shrugged weakly and Lor’themar dropped his hand. “You gotta stop what you’re doing. You look like shit. I’m looking too, you know. You probably don’t believe me - but I am. We’ll find her. We can find anyone.”
“I never asked you to get involved, Theron. I wish you wouldn’t.” Liadrin said the words, but she found it difficult to make them sound meaningful.
“The last thing you need right now is to be alone.” Lor’themar tried to phrase it right. Tried not to make Liadrin feel worse than she already did. But...she was so unreadable, he wasn’t sure he’d succeeded.
She had no way of knowing Valeera was struggling. That she was terrified. That she was still somehow clean despite being surrounded by exactly what she’d been so desperate to escape.
She also had no way of knowing just how close Valeera was to giving up.
She couldn’t. Even if she could’ve guessed - Liadrin was utterly consumed with herself. So much so, that she didn’t even realize how long Lor’themar had been sitting there waiting for some sort of acknowledgment until he spoke again.
“Take care of yourself. I’m gonna keep an eye out whether you like it or not.” Lor’themar looked at her one more time before leaving the car once she managed a faint nod.
Liadrin’s eyes shifted to the ceiling and shut slowly as the parole officer’s words washed over her.
“Lillian...I...I promise you she’s doing well. I just need this one favor. I just need time. Give me a chance. Give her a chance. Please.”
The woman looked down at her desk at nothing in particular. She’d seen Liadrin plenty of times. Most parole officers had seen narcotics officers and detectives plenty of times. Just...never for this reason.
“Did she have a family emergency?” Lillian asked with a faint tilt of her head as Liadrin looked at her carefully.
“What do you mean?”
“What I mean to say is, I haven’t made any exceptions for her the entire time she’s been in my caseload. If you’re telling me she’s had to tend to a family emergency, perhaps a death or something of that nature, I may be able to do something for her.”
“Her mother is ill.” Liadrin lied easily.
Lillian only smiled and nodded faintly as she made a note in Valeera’s file.
“She’s in-state, of course. She’d never leave the state.”
Lillian nodded again. “Why didn’t you say so? A couple of weeks would be more than fair to deal with something like that, right?”
Liadrin was beside herself. It was the first time she’d felt actual relief since Valeera left.
“Yes. Yes, absolutely.”
Liadrin was already almost at the office door she’d come in through when she thanked Lillian quietly, but she was gone before the woman could respond.
When she got home, all she could think about was how much of a mess it was. How much she wanted Valeera to come back to see it how she’d left it. Because believing that Valeera would come back was the only thing keeping her going, anymore.
She cleaned and polished and dusted until she felt her arms were going to fall off. She took care of Sponge’s tank. Got rid of the assortment of empty bottles that had been collecting on her kitchen counter. None of that. Valeera was definitely not going to find out about any of that.
But there was only so much cleaning to be done. Only so much she could busy herself with before she found herself leaned against the shower wall with her hair plastered to her and tears she didn’t know she had left mixing with the water running over her.
It was like this sometimes. She could function. When she had to. And god, she had to, or it got like this. Where she walked around every corner expecting to see an empty capri sun laying somewhere or every quiet noise outside woke her from an uneasy sleep because maybe, just maybe, it was Valeera.
Tonight, though, was different. Tonight - after Liadrin got her vest on and her belt and went through her usual nightly routine. Minus the goodbye kiss. That had been her favorite part. It really had.
She found herself lost in her thoughts for a moment until the vibration of her phone in her jacket caught her off-guard and she pulled it out quickly only to see a number she didn’t know on her screen. With a furrow between her brows, she slid her thumb to accept the call.
Liadrin could have sworn she heard something akin to a choking noise on the other end of the line.
Her knees buckled and she only just managed to catch herself on the edge of the dresser as she clutched the phone closer to her hear. “Valeera? Baby? Where are you...god, where are you?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
She was whispering so quietly, Liadrin almost couldn’t hear her. “Okay. That’s okay, I understand. Tell me that you’re alright.”
Silence. Too much silence. The kind that stretched on into forever.
“Are...are you alright?”
Another sound. One that had Liadrin straining to hear something. Anything.
“I remembered your number.” Valeera breathed into the phone with something that sounded like a mix between a laugh and a sob.
“Yeah. Yeah, you did. You did so good, baby.” Liadrin was scrambling for her keys. She dropped them three times on her way to the door. “I’m gonna find you. I swear I’m gonna find you. I promise I will.”
“Don’t.” Valeera’s voice was shaking. She sounded so utterly broken that it drove the air from Liadrin’s lungs. “I just wanted to hear your voice again. I just really fucking missed you.”
Liadrin didn’t start her car. Not yet. She was scared she would miss something. She tried to keep a level head. She tried to approach this the right way. The way that involved less emotion and more thought. It just...didn’t work.
“Please.” Liadrin’s voice cracked and her head fell against her steering wheel. “Just tell me I can bring you home and I’ll take care of the rest. I need you. I need you so fucking bad.”
“I have to go.” Valeera spoke quickly. She disconnected the call just as fast.
Liadrin was already pulling out of her driveway by the time she had her phone to her ear again.
“I need a call location trace on a number.”
Valeera would have known that.
That’s all Liadrin kept thinking.
Valeera would have known that Liadrin could find her. Or she’d have blocked the number. Or called her from a payphone.
But she hadn’t. And that was more than enough for Liadrin. Valeera had given her more than enough to work with.
Chapter 12: Dirty Deeds
Liadrin knew a lot of things.
Knowing them and actually heeding her own internal alarms, however, were two different things.
She knew better than to go here alone in the middle of the night with no back-up. Hell, she hadn't even called in her location or that she was stopping.
Yet, here she was. Standing next to the door - a full clip in her glock, silencing the voice in her head that was screaming at her that this was wrong. This wasn’t how to do this.
But...it was. Sort-of. The only way that would save Valeera from having her sentence re-instated, anyway. The only way that would save Valeera at all.
She’d been watching the house. She knew the knocks. The signals. She knew who was and who wasn’t here. Right now - it was just Kael’thas and one of his guys. Not bad odds. The contact that had been heading here was safe. Relatively safe, anyway, in an alley across town.
So her knock wasn’t unexpected.
But what happened next was.
In the split second between when they door was cracked open, and the man on the other side realized this wasn’t their guy, she was inside. He was on the floor with a gun to the base of his skull. It had been almost silent. Especially over the music thumping through the house.
“Where’s Valeera?” Liadrin asked very close to his ear.
“You must be that pig girlfriend of hers.” He managed to get out between tightly clenched teeth. “I dunno where she is.”
The gun was replaced suddenly with her fist - which gripped as much of his hair as she could gather before she lifted his head and cracked his face down into the floor.
“Where is she?”
He sputtered rather helplessly as the gun found its way back against his neck where it had been. “I don’t fucking know. I don’t fucking know where she is. Fuck you.”
Liadrin bared her fangs and stood slowly, but not before delivering a blow to his temple that would leave him unconscious for as long as she’d need him that way.
She made her way slowly through the house - keeping close to the walls as her ears shifted in response to each and every noise. Behind every door, there was more filth. More used needles. More pre-packaged product that would likely find its way to the streets soon enough.
But Liadrin didn’t care about any of that. Not right now. She could hear everything. Especially her own heart hammering in her chest - echoing almost painfully in her ears.
She made it all the way upstairs without finding anyone. She made it all the way to the master bath before the sight that met her eyes nearly shattered her composure. “Valeera?”
There was no answer aside from shallow breathing from the woman crumpled in the corner of the bathroom floor. Fuck, thank god there was that.
Liadrin moved closer - keeping one eye on the doorway until she was sure no one had heard her, and then quickly moving to Valeera’s side.
“Baby, look at me.” Liadrin whispered urgently, lifting Valeera’s face and patting her cheek a few times. “Baby, you gotta tell me what you’re on. It’s okay. It’s okay, just tell me. I’ll fix it. But you gotta tell me.”
Valeera’s head rolled against her chest and Liadrin hissed a curse under her breath. “Hang tight. Hang tight, I’ll be back. I promise.”
Liadrin scrambled around the bathroom - picking up bottle after bottle before she made her way into the hallway only to find Kae’thas turning the corner towards her. Smirking.
“Clever.” He drawled out lazily. “I knew you’d been watching, but this...this is impressive.”
Liadrin released a slow, steadying breath and tilted her head faintly. “You’ve got about one second to tell me what she’s on. She’s fucking overdosing and I need to know how to help her, or I’m putting you away for the rest of your life.”
Kael’thas’ face faltered for a moment. That hadn’t exactly been part of the plan.
But Liadrin was out of patience. Before he could even think to formulate an acceptable answer, Liadrin had advanced on him and shoved him off-balance and into the wall near the stairs.
“I gave you one second.” Liadrin hissed as he tried to push himself from the wall only to find the cold steel of a barrel brushing his cheek. “Tell me what she’s on.”
“Fucking pills.” Kael’thas spat. “I couldn’t get her to touch the hard stuff. You’ve been a shit influence.”
“That’s enough.” Liadrin muttered. “I’m taking her home, and you’re not coming anywhere near her ever again or I’ll burn your life to the ground. Is that clear?”
“You don’t have shit on me. If you did you wouldn’t be alone.”
“I don’t need shit on you.” Liadrin sounded almost eerily calm as she took a single step back. “You really underestimate how willing I’d be to blow your fucking brains out.”
In the next instant - following a blinding flash and an unbearable ringing in his ears - Kael’thas was crumpled to the ground clutching the ear Liadrin had fired off a round only inches away from.
As gone as Valeera was, even she had heard that shot. She was still trying to focus her vision when she saw Liadrin rush into the bathroom and gather her into her arms.
It wasn’t her. It wasn’t her. Liadrin was okay.
“I’ve got you.” Liadrin panted as she took the stairs two at a time clutching Valeera as close to her as she could. “I’ve got you, you’re okay. I just gotta get you to the car. Can you hear me? Stay with me. Please.”
Liadrin repeated that probably a hundred times by the time she got Valeera into the back seat of her unit and was scrambling for the bag in her front passenger seat. For a moment, her training took over. She grabbed the Narcan as soon as she felt it beneath her fingertips and administered it - somehow managing not to shake while she did it.
She tossed the little piece of plastic to the floor of her car and placed a hand on Valeera’s chest as she pulled her close. “Breathe,” Liadrin whispered. Her radio was just inches away.
She could call a squad right now. She could make the call that would land Valeera behind bars. That would undo everything. Likely even her own career.
And just as she moved to reach for it, she felt Valeera shift in her arms. She felt her breathing deepen, and she felt hands clutching at her chest.
“I thought…” Valeera shuddered as she tried to make her fingers work. “I thought you...I heard…”
“No, no, baby. I’m right here, okay? I’m gonna get you home. You’re okay. We’re both okay.”
Leaving Valeera laying in the back seat was one of the hardest things she’d ever done. Until she had to pay attention to the road instead of her. At every opportunity - every stop sign, every traffic light, she was leaning back to check on her only for Valeera to reassure her that she’d be fine. Until finally, Valeera managed to reach between the seats and rest a hand on her arm. “Chill. I’m good.”
As muddled as those words were, Liadrin had needed to hear them. They were enough, at least, for her to get them home and get Valeera to the bathroom.
One very warm, very careful bath later - Valeera was sitting on the edge of the tub nursing a bottle of water wrapped in one of Liadrin’s robes while Liadrin took a moment in the bedroom.
A long moment. A moment to stare at herself in the mirror and replace the bullet missing from the chamber of her gun before she placed it on the dresser.
She hadn’t even been on duty tonight.
She was still half-zoned out when she heard Valeera’s voice from the bathroom.
“When are they coming to get me?”
Liadrin frowned and made her way towards that soft, raspy question to see Valeera looking both exhausted and...accepting.
Valeera swallowed another sip of water and avoided Liadrin’s gaze in favor of staring down at the floor.
“There’s gotta be a warrant, right? I’m sure you had to tell parole I was missing. So. When are they coming to get me?”
“Baby...nobody knows.” Liadrin was shocked by the look of surprise on Valeera’s face when her eyes darted up to meet her own.
“...What’d you just say?”
Liadrin moved to kneel in front of Valeera and reached up to stroke along her face so carefully it was as though she felt the younger woman was suddenly made of glass. “I said nobody knows. Lor’themar was looking for you, sure...but...nobody knows, there’s no warrant, and nobody is coming to get you. You’ll have a call from the office soon, probably, but the pills should be out of your system by then.”
“You didn’t have to do that for me.” Valeera responded immediately. “You’ve actually got your shit together. You’ve got all this...I...I don’t want you risking anything for me.”
“That’s not a thing anymore.” Liadrin said without an ounce of hesitation. “The you thing. The me thing. This became an ‘us’ thing a long time ago.”
“I just wish you wouldn’t be so perfect sometimes. Like. I fucking left you. What the fuck?”
“You didn’t think you had a choice. And, trust me, I’m so far from perfect. I’m so fucking far from perfect. But we’ll get it right eventually. Or as close to right as we can get.”
The first hug came, then. The one Liadrin had been waiting for. The one she’d been too scared to reach in for. But here it was. Valeera’s arms around her more desperately than she’d ever felt them. Holding her while her composure finally broke. But it was okay. They both needed this.
Valeera needed to help Liadrin out of her jacket and out of her vest and fall into bed with her with Liadrin’s face buried in the crook of her neck while Valeera dug her nails into her back in turn. They needed these choked breaths and quiet reassurances.
Eventually, though, they each managed to steady themselves in the certainty that this was real. That Valeera was home. That she never had to leave, again. And that they would absolutely not keep things from each other anymore.
With all that out of the way, and Valeera stroking slowly along her chest, Liadrin set about ordering a pizza. Valeera might have had some sort of joke about appropriate timing ready for her were she not absolutely starving.
And...there was something so good about Liadrin glancing down at her and asking quietly if she wanted breadsticks.
Valeera nodded, of course. She always wanted breadsticks. She also found it unbearably cute that Liadrin still called in delivery orders. She always had. When she hung up, Valeera had a kiss waiting for her that Liadrin gladly accepted.
“You’ve got plenty of Capri Suns in the fridge, by the way. I’ll go get you one.”
Valeera grabbed her wrist quickly before she could even make it out of bed, and Liadrin turned to look at her in confusion.
“Please just stay with me until the pizza gets here.”
Liadrin nodded faintly before she settled back down beside Valeera and reached for her, finding that Valeera was all too happy to have her hair stroked a little more while they waited.
“What am I going to do if he comes back?”
Liadrin turned her head to level a gaze at Valeera and ran the curved backs of her fingers down the younger woman’s cheek. “He’s not coming for you.” She reassured gently.
Valeera nodded faintly. “And what about if he comes for you?”
“Don’t worry about that,” Liadrin replied firmly. “I can handle myself. I promise.”
Valeera was quiet for a while. Just long enough to attempt to gather her thoughts, before she pressed a soft kiss to Liadrin’s shoulder. “I don’t ever want to be away from you again. I couldn’t stand it, Liadrin. I couldn’t fucking stand it. It felt like all the good parts of me were gone. I’ve never felt so empty.”
Liadrin hadn’t been expecting all that. Not in the least. She hadn’t thought for a moment that Valeera had been feeling exactly what she’d been feeling. “I...I get that. I felt that. Every day we were apart, I felt that. I never want us to be apart again, either. I won’t ever let us be.”
“Alright. You can get me a Capri Sun now.” Valeera smiled weakly in response to Liadrin’s quiet snort. “Hey…”
Liadrin paused halfway out of bed and looked back in time to find Valeera’s tired expression turning into something so soft it was almost unfamiliar. But it was so fucking welcomed.
“I love you. And I missed you every day.”
Liadrin had had a lump in her throat for most of the night. It had suddenly grown to be unbearable. She nodded quickly and offered her a smile. “Yeah. I love you, too. And you know I missed you. So much.”
Valeera reclined back against the pillows and pulled more of the blankets over herself, but her eyes stayed on Liadrin until she disappeared down the hallway.
“Sunny, don’t raise your voice like that. We’ll get it done. Trust me.”
Any other time, Kael’thas might have snapped back at Thaladred for having the audacity to tell him what to do. But the bastard was right. Until his ear healed, any noise whatsoever was next to unbearable. And yelling? Excruciating. So he simply nodded.
“So...once this is done, what do we do about Sanguinar?” Thaladred asked once it seemed Kael’thas was in a better position to answer questions.
“I don’t care about Sanguinar anymore.” Kael’thas muttered darkly as he turned his attention to an overstuffed envelope nearby and slid it towards the man standing on the other side of his desk. “Leave her be. That’ll be the worst thing we could do. Kill the cop and watch what happens to Val. She’ll be fuckin’ lost.”
“Consider it done, then.” Thaladred reached for the envelope and Kael’thas nodded once.
“You’ll get the other half once it’s finished.”
Chapter 13: Always
She’d also smiled softly and dismissively when Valeera asked her what was wrong.
“I just love you. That’s all.”
And that was true enough. It really was. She loved Valeera more than she had ever loved anyone or anything.
That’s why she was ending this tonight.
It had been about a week since she’d first gotten word about the hit that had been ordered on her through her network of informants. About the same amount of time since she’d first noticed she was being followed.
One of two things was going to happen tonight. That’s what Liadrin kept telling herself as she glanced in her rearview mirror and brought the mouthpiece of her radio towards her lips.
Either Kael’thas and his ilk were going to prison, or they were going to the morgue. Because leaving Valeera wasn’t an option for Liadrin. It never had been. She wasn’t about to let that change tonight.
This time, at least, she’d decided not to go it alone. Everyone in her unit knew about the hit.
She keyed up the instant a car turned behind her. She’d come out here purposely. This part of town was dead. There wasn’t a single shop still open or a single car on the road. So she knew exactly who was after her.
And now, so did Lor’themar - who was closest to her. Another strategic move on the department’s part. They’d been partners. They worked best together. Most importantly, they trusted each other.
They’d offered to go ahead and apprehend, of course. To keep Liadrin safely away from any possible harm.
But their case would’ve been week. It likely would’ve fallen apart the minute they submitted it to the DA. No, they needed more.
They needed the attempt.
And, as Liadrin glanced back in front of her car to notice another vehicle pulling out of an alleyway to cut her off, she knew this would be it.
She just hadn’t counted on the second car.
“Turning North on Hickory. Second car in pursuit.” Liadrin made a quick left as Lor’themar affirmed over her radio that he was inbound.
They were pushing her further towards the edge of town. The second car added enough pressure that Liadrin could do little else but exactly what they seemed to want her to do.
“Theron, what’s your ETA?” Her voice was even as she glanced up at the mirror once again to make sure both cars were still behind.
“Five. Tops. Hang tight.”
Liadrin placed the handset back where it went, and gripped her steering wheel more tightly in her left hand as her eyes fell to the little photograph tucked into the instrument cluster of her car. A single little picture of her and Valeera in a photo booth the younger woman had practically dragged her into.
She saw headlights flash into the car through the passenger seat, but she couldn’t react fast enough. In seconds, a third car that she hadn’t seen had impacted with the rear of her car and fishtailed her violently.
It was as she spun that the first shots rang out - but that, at least, she’d been prepared for. She ducked down as her windshield was shattered, and scrambled for her walkie.
“Shots fired. Shots fired. I’m immobile. Send all available units.”
For a moment, everything went still. Liadrin reached for her sidearm and unsnapped the holster just in time to draw it as she saw someone rushing to the passenger side to open her door. She got off a couple rounds before she was on the ground outside with her back pressed to the car, effectively placing the body of the vehicle between her and her pursuers.
She could tell by the groaning that she’d hit her mark. But she also knew she was still outnumbered. Badly.
Four minutes. Right? Four minutes until Lor’themar should be pulling up.
She could make that.
Her head turned sharply as she heard footsteps on the other side of the car.
“Where is she?”
A groan in response.
“Where the fuck is she, you fucking idiot?”
“How the fuck am I supposed to know? She fucking shot me.”
“Yeah, and we have a job to do.”
“A fucking job to do? I’m bleeding out, what the fuck do you mean we have a j-”
The shot that silenced him left Liadrin’s ears ringing, it had been so unexpected and so close. She used this moment of distraction to dart from behind the car towards the warehouse the earlier impact had nearly trapped her car against.
But they’d caught the sight of movement. They’d caught the glint of her drawn gun in the streetlamps.
Two of them opened fire and one gave chase and she returned each shot they took, if only to give herself room to maneuver.
Three. There were three left.
Liadrin’s back hit the wall she’d made it to almost hard enough to drive the breath from her lungs.
“Come out, come out. We know where you are. Not so smart now, are you?”
It was all Liadrin could do, then, to steady herself enough to lower herself against the wall and glance quickly around the corner. The timing of the kick aimed at her jaw was off just enough that she grabbed the offending ankle and had the man toppling over onto the ground with her.
They grappled for a moment. Liadrin was fast approaching a blind panic when he got his hands on her gun just before she fired and he went still on top of her.
She scrambled out from beneath him and glanced up quickly to find the remaining two men cutting off any possible route of escape.
“Thanks. I was going to have to get rid of him, anyway.”
Liadrin’s attention focused on the man speaking as the one accompanying him turned a look of shock in his direction. The look didn’t last long.
It became clear this had been the plan all along, as he, too, received a ruthlessly efficient bullet to the chest.
And then the gun was turned on her and they were at an impasse.
Hers was leveled on him. His, on her.
“I’m a quicker shot. Lower your weapon.” Liadrin sounded unworried, despite the fact that she absolutely was.
She knew this man. Thaladred. They’d never been able to pin anything on him, and now - she understood why.
It was because he never left anyone to talk.
“You’d think that, wouldn’t you?” Thaladred asked with a faint smirk. “If your clip weren’t empty.”
Liadrin clenched her jaw. She’d known that, of course. But how had he, among all the chaos, managed to count her shots?
“Extended clip.” Liadrin countered easily after the briefest of pauses.
“Take your shot, then.” Thaladred drawled as his smirk widened into a grin that sent chills along Liadrin’s spine.
It all happened so fast that Liadrin’s head was still spinning even as Thaladred dropped to his knees and Lor’themar ran up to them from behind where Thaladred had only just been standing.
Two shots. One from Lor’themar.
One from Thaladred.
Lor’themar kicked the man’s gun away quickly. He was alive, if only just.
It was the sound of metal sliding over pavement that drew Liadrin back into the moment. That, and the realization that it was excruciating to breathe. That there was a strange, wet heat spreading along her shoulder inside her shirt.
Hot. Her shoulder was so hot that she drew in a sharp breath as she reached for it as she glanced down.
Lor’themar hadn’t even realized she’d been hit. Not until she tried to stand and stumbled immediately, slumping over slowly as Lor’themar’s voice began sounding like it was coming from further and further way.
“Liadrin, no, be still. Fuck, be still.”
She kept a loose hold on consciousness until Lor’themar tugged his jacket off and pressed it against the wound on her shoulder.
From then, it was very touch-and-go for a while.
She didn’t remember much of the ambulance ride. She definitely didn’t remember arriving at the hospital. And maybe that was all for the best. Getting shot fucking hurt.
She’d been just about to try again when she heard a knock at the door and her heart dropped into her stomach. The sight of Lor’themar standing there looking utterly exhausted wasn’t something she’d expected. It was...so much worse than anything she could have expected, really.
Lor’themar held up a hand quickly. “She’s fine. She’s gonna be fine. I’m just here to take you to the hospital.”
“Hold on. Hold the fuck up.” Valeera could scarcely breathe, much less think. “How is she both fine, and at the hospital?”
Lor’themar shook his head and turned. “I’ll explain on the way. You should probably be sitting for this, anyway.”
Valeera hated crying in front of people. She absolutely hated it. That was the main reason she spent most of the ride staring out of the passenger side window, quickly wiping what felt like a neverending stream of tears from her cheeks.
It felt like forever before they were pulling up in front of the entrance. “They’d just taken her back to surgery when I left. She’ll be out by now, or soon, at least.”
“Thanks,” Valeera whispered, though she still couldn’t look at him.
“I need to go take care of some things. This is going to be one hell of a report. I’ll be back later, though.”
Valeera nodded numbly and got out of the car.
It was the longest, worst walk she’d ever taken. Each step down the over-sterile hallways under the irritating fluorescent lights felt like it was taking her further from Liadrin instead of closer.
She was walking so fast by the time she got to the room, she nearly collided with a retreating doctor, and backpedaled as she swore she caught the faintest glimpse of Liadrin in the room beyond.
“You must be Valeera.” The woman offered with a faintly tired smile.
“I am. How did…”
“Lor’themar told me you’d be here. And that you’re family.” The woman offered quickly, glancing down at the chart in her hands.
“I’m...yeah. Yeah. I am. Is she…?” Valeera was so uneasy. So much so, that even the tired surgeon standing in front of her took notice.
“She’s perfectly fine. Unfortunately, the bullet didn’t exit - so it caused a fair bit of damage in her shoulder, but it’s nothing she won’t recover from passably. She’s still under, right now. They’ll be waking her up here shortly. It’d probably be best if you were in the room when they do, actually.”
“Of course. I’m. Yeah. Yeah, of course.” Valeera entered the room when the door was held open for her, and rushed over to the side of Liadrin’s bed that wasn’t currently occupied. She looked so helpless like this. All hooked up to various bags and machines and pale from all the blood she’d probably lost.
And her lips were dry. Valeera’s brow furrowed in worry as her heart raced frantically in her chest. Why were her lips dry? Weren’t they supposed to wet them for her or something?
Before she could focus too much on that, though, Liadrin’s eyelids fluttered faintly. The staff were talking to her. Or to Liadrin. Valeera couldn't tell. Her thoughts were still hopelessly muddled when they left and Liadrin's eyes were resting on her.
“You're pretty.” Liadrin rasped through the soreness in her throat.
Valeera tried to laugh softly but it only came out in a quiet sob as she reached out and, with trembling fingertips, touched over Liadrin’s heavily bandaged shoulder before cradling her cheek.
“And you're a reckless idiot.” Valeera breathed as she leaned over the bed and kissed Liadrin’s forehead. Once. Twice. And then she just gave up and stayed there as her chest ached with every breath she took.
Liadrin’s eyes shut again at some point as she drifted off again, and Valeera looked around until she found a pitcher of water. She'd never done anything quite as carefully as she poured some into a little styrofoam cup and wet her fingertips and traced them over Liadrin’s lips until they didn't look quite so painfully dry anymore.
It was a long time before Liadrin was coherent enough for the panic that had settled deep in the pit of Valeera’s stomach to settle.
“I'm sorry I scared you.” Liadrin whispered as Valeera reached for her hand and she took it in her own, stroking across her knuckles in a way that she hoped was at least somewhat reassuring.
Valeera’s eyes fell to the sheets of the bed and she nodded faintly. “Liadrin...I...you don't deserve the baggage I come with. You don't deserve to be laying here right now because of me. You can't tell me I'm wrong. Just...I'll stay until you're better and then I'll do my best to leave you alone. It's all gonna come out. I know it is. You're probably gonna lose your job because of me. I've fucked more than enough of your life and it's selfish of me to think it'll end here. I can't keep-”
“Am I interrupting something?”
Lor’themar was standing in the doorway holding a bouquet and a teddy bear dressed in a little police uniform looking alarmed at the sight of Valeera trying to stop crying. “I came by to congratulate you on the early retirement.”
Valeera looked lost. Liadrin only shook her head and gave the younger woman's hand a gentle squeeze.
“Can you give us just a sec, Lor?” Liadrin asked plaintively from the bed.
He stepped back out of the room immediately.
“Valeera, baby, look at me, yeah?”
As difficult as that was to do right now, Valeera did her best.
“I’m not losing my job. I'm not going to die. I was only two years out from my retirement. They're giving me my full benefits because of the extent of the injury. On top of that, they think they'll get a full confession from Thaladred soon. That’ll put him and Kael’thas away for a long, long time. Probably life. If you plan on going anywhere, I'm absolutely coming with you.”
Valeera was quiet for a while before she managed to croak our a response. “Are you serious? You're really just retiring? We're okay? You're okay?”
“I'm...relatively okay.” Liadrin breathed with a quiet laugh that trailed off as she lifted her hand to pull some of Valeera’s hair behind her ear. “But I’m always better when I'm with you. Always. Please stay. Always stay.”
Valeera turned her face into Liadrin’s palm and held it there with both her hands as she nodded almost numbly.
A soft knock on the door a while later reminded them both that Lor’themar was still waiting outside, and the rest of the evening was spent with Valeera realizing that maybe, just maybe - she had a real life here, now. With real friends. One of whom was sitting on the opposite side of the bed, occasionally glancing at her with a smile or a laugh to offer.
But he had a shift to cover that night. And Liadrin was exhausted.
Before he made it too far down the hallway, Valeera caught up to him. And she thanked him. Maybe in not so many words...but she did her best to tell him that he'd saved her whole world and everything in it.
And he thanked Valeera in return, because he'd never seen Liadrin this happy.
He even said he'd be checking in on them, and Valeera was almost shocked to realize she didn't mind.
But she was just as happy to be back in Liadrin’s room with her, taking care of her. Like Liadrin had always cared for her.
She'd be happy doing this forever. She was already getting attached to the idea of ‘always’ and the fact that Liadrin meant it. If she was being entirely honest with herself, she had been for a long time.
There was just something different, now, about the way she caught Liadrin looking at her. And she couldn't know it, but there was something different about the way she looked back.
Chapter 14: Mrs. Sanguinar
There was a little less pep in Liadrin's voice than usual, but - hey. She was doing her best. Valeera wasn't due back from her conference until later that night and she'd been running herself ragged between the diner downstairs and their most recent intake.
One who she desperately needed Valeera’s help with.
“Hey, babe. Just wanted to hear your voice and I'm pretty sure you forgot to charge your phone, because it's either off - or dead.” Valeera sounded amused on the other end of the line and Liadrin chuckled quietly in response.
“It's probably in the diner, honestly. One of the girls had to leave early last night and I was stuck trying to clean up so none of them had to work late. Come home. Please. I'm struggling.”
Valeera outright laughed at that, and Liadrin leaned back in her desk chair with a sigh. “I'm serious, babe - c’mon. The diner’s gonna go up in flames without you here.”
“Is it the diner that's giving you trouble, or the new girl?”
Valeera could have guessed what face Liadrin was making before she even responded.
“Feels like you're a white knight that's never done a wrong thing in your life and doesn't want a retired cop preaching to her, even though you've done literally no preaching?”
Liadrin sighed yet again. “Yeah. That's about right.”
“Well, I have great news. I used to do a lot of coke and I'm standing outside our office because the conference ended early.”
Liadrin’s ears perked immediately, and when she turned to look out the window into the hallway - she saw Valeera smiling at her.
“That was cute. Can I come in?”
Liadrin moved towards the door and had Valeera in her arms and lifted from the floor before she even managed to shut the door behind herself. “Fuck. Fuck, I missed you.”
“I know. I missed you, too.” Valeera pressed a kiss to Liadrin’s cheek before she was lowered back down, but didn’t make a move to pull away. “But that’s all my CEU’s for the year done.”
Liadrin leaned back so she could see Valeera better and cradled her face in her hands as she nodded. “Yeah. Have I mentioned I’m proud of you?”
“At least once a day for the past ten years.” Valeera was smiling, though. Smiling and running her hands up Liadrin’s sides towards her chest. “I’m kind of starting to like it. How are you?” As Valeera asked that question, she stroked over the older woman’s shoulder gently.
“Fine.” Liadrin tilted Valeera’s head while she responded, gently guiding Valeera’s hand away and back towards her chest. “I’m just fine, now.”
Valeera didn’t even have time to respond before Liadrin’s lips were pressing into hers in a slow kiss that held within it the promise of so much more. More that would, unfortunately, have to wait. At least until Valeera got done processing the intake she’d missed and trying to settle her in.
But they could both spare a few minutes. Valeera didn’t really feel like she had a choice. It was as though her body had a mind of its own as she slid her hands to the small of Liadrin’s back and parted her lips for her so the kiss could be deepened.
“Mmm...you should marry me…” Valeera finally murmured when Liadrin broke away to leave a trail of kisses down the side of her neck.
“I already did,” Liadrin whispered with a small smile. “But I’d do it again.”
“You say that every time.” Valeera chuckled quietly as she pushed Liadrin’s hands away gentle when they began to meander inside the front of her shirt.
“I mean it every time,” Liadrin said, sounding a touch more serious, now.
Valeera met the gaze that had been leveled on her. “I know you do. And I’d marry you again, too.”
When Valeera finally took a step back, it was with extreme reluctance. “I need to go back downstairs and get her settled in.”
Liadrin offered Valeera a faint smile and nod and gave her hand a quick squeeze before letting go.
Once Valeera was gone, Liadrin took a moment to collect both her things and her thoughts for the evening. She smiled fondly at one of their wedding photos on her desk. Paused in front of the framed picture on the wall of the ribbon-cutting ceremony for their diner.
She had to pass Valeera’s desk on her way out, too. But Liadrin never minded that. She never minded seeing the various photos and thank-you cards that were always pinned to the bulletin board nearby. She never minded passing the degree that had hung on the wall next to it for years, now.
In fact, she almost always looked at Valeera’s desk for a while before she shut the light off to their office and locked the door behind herself. Because there were hazards to leaving things unlocked around here. Files to be kept private - the diner’s safe - any number of things that would spell bad news if one of their girls got antsy.
There were no stray bullets now, though. No probation for Valeera. Every night, they locked up the diner run mostly by women they’d helped, or even some that still lived in the rooms above it. Every night, they went to the building next door that they called home - always ready to answer a phone call or solve a crisis.
It was a wonderful life. A life that came easy to both of them, even when it was hard. They’d been through so much worse than an argument between roommates or trying to free up another bed for an emergency intake. And Liadrin knew that downstairs - there was a girl who desperately needed help talking to the woman more equipped to help her than anyone Liadrin had ever known. To the woman who had turned her own life around entirely. To her wife.
“You’re the only family I’ve ever had.” Liadrin murmured. “I’m absolutely certain. And the wedding is tomorrow. It’s a little late to change my mind, now. Besides, nobody’s gonna be worried about my last name. I can’t wait to be referred to as the wife of Licensed Professional Counselor; Valeera Sanguinar.”
Valeera’s lips curled as she gave Liadrin’s side a gentle pinch. “I’m still two years away from that.”
Liadrin recovered from the quick tickle and wrapped an arm around Valeera to pull her more fully on top of herself. “It’ll fly by.”
Valeera tried not to be disappointed as she made her way to the bedroom. She knew Liadrin had had a lot on her plate the past week. She knew she probably hadn’t slept enough. And she was caught completely off-guard when Liadrin looked at her from the bed, only her legs covered with their sheets and her hair down against the pillow.
Valeera was overwhelmed at the sight of Liadrin laying there, illuminated in the soft glow of lamplight - smiling at her warmly. Invitingly. By the time she made it to the bed, her clothing was discarded on the floor just so she could feel Liadrin’s skin against her own.
Liadrin still looked so fucking good. She still felt so fucking good. And Valeera sank into her and melted into the strong arms and gentle kisses that awaited her until she found herself rolled gently onto her back.
“Don’t ever be sorry for keeping me waiting.” Liadrin murmured against her lips. They were both already a little breathless. “I’d wait forever for you. And what you do is so important.” The touches they were sharing were less fevered, suddenly. They turned from grasping fingertips digging into skin to Liadrin tracing Valeera’s sides slowly as she spoke.
Valeera’s cheeks were deeply flushed between Liadrin’s attention and praise. “It’s all because of you.” She countered softly, and Liadrin buried her face against her neck to pepper it with kisses and gentle bites.
“No.” Liadrin murmured - her warm breath ghosting against Valeera’s skin. “Every bit of this is because of you.” The kisses trailed lower. Towards Valeera’s shoulder. “You were the brave one. You were the one that never gave up.”
Valeera let out a quiet gasp as Liadrin trailed a hand up her inner thigh, and any protests feel silent on her lips.
“I’m just lucky as hell for every single day that I get to watch you be the most amazing person I’ve ever known.” Liadrin continued, though any further coherent thought was stolen from her when Valeera pressed her leg up between her thighs to further complicate the tangle they’d become.
God, but what a tangle. What a beautiful mess they were - as Liadrin rocked her hips against the firm pressure of Valeera’s thigh and sank her fingers into her in just the right way. They brought each other to what they both desperately needed with practiced ease. Again and again. Until Liadrin was laying on her stomach and Valeera was leaving a trail of lazy kisses across her shoulders.
“Mm...don’t. You’ll put me to sleep.” Liadrin managed to mumble into the pillow her face had landed in.
“You deserve it.” Valeera nudged Liadrin’s ear gently so she would turn her head. Just so she could catch her smiling because she could hear it in her voice and she’d missed it like crazy.
“I’ll be right back,” Liadrin responded, though she got caught up in a kiss before she could make it out of bed. She padded slowly across the bedroom on slightly wobbly legs and was only gone for a moment before she returned, a glass of water in one hand and a Capri Sun in the other - the straw already poked into the hole in the top.
As she sat on the edge of the bed sipping her water, her eyes fluttered shut a few times while Valeera rubbed her back with her free hand.
By the time Valeera was sitting her empty drink pouch on the nightstand, she was also catching Liadrin’s glass before it could fall from her grasp and guiding her into bed.
“You’re cute. C’mere.” Amidst Liadrin’s unintelligible murmurs, Valeera got them tucked in and re-tangled despite the fact that they were both half-awake at best. Liadrin’s eyes opened again once Valeera pressed closer to her, though, and she pulled gently against the younger woman’s lower back to get her even closer.
“I love you. You were so good tonight, baby.” Valeera breathed into the now-darkened room.
“I love you, too. And you always say that.” Liadrin, despite how tired she was, sounded almost playful suddenly. And Valeera could hear the smile in her voice, again.
“I always mean it.”
Liadrin’s smile faded into a lingering kiss against Valeera’s temple. “I know.”
“Is...is it?” Liadrin asked as she squinted her eyes and looked around. The real-estate agent had just given them the code for the lockbox on the front door. She probably hadn’t been too confident in the sale. What the real estate agent didn’t know, however, was that this was one of the only listings in this part of the country that had exactly what they needed. Even if it looked like it was going to take all the elbow grease either of them had in them.
“Yeah,” Valeera responded with that unshakeable confidence that she’d fought tooth-and-nail to regain. Confidence that she deserved to have a thousand times over. Before Liadrin could respond, Valeera was tugging her towards the counter and the stools that lined it. Liadrin didn’t have much of a choice but to take a seat and watch curiously as Valeera jogged around to the other side and disappeared through the swinging doors that led to the kitchen.
Valeera re-appeared a minute or two later after finding a dingy apron and tying it around her waist.
“Hello, Mrs. Officer.” Valeera was smirking. Looking beautiful. Looking healthy and happy and excited and fucking perfect.
“Hey.” Liadrin responded softly. She was smiling just as broadly as Valeera was all the way up until the moment Valeera approached the counter and leaned over it for a quick kiss.
“We’re all out of coffee. Sorry.”
“I got water that night, remember?” Liadrin asked as she found Valeera’s hand on the dusty counter-top and covered it with her own.
“Yeah.” Valeera countered as she claimed another kiss. “But I put my number on the to-go cup I made you.”
“You did.” Liadrin stroked over Valeera’s hand gently for a while, pausing to touch over the relatively new addition of the wedding band on her ring finger. “I’ll put in our offer in the morning. What are you gonna call it?”
“Fries N’ Eggs.” Valeera couldn’t really hide the excitement in her voice. “I hated all those stuffy names for the programs I had to go through, you know?”
“I know.” Liadrin lifted Valeera’s hand and brushed her lips against her knuckles before she continued. “It’s perfect. You’re perfect.”
“Thanks. You’re not too bad, yourself, Mrs. Sanguinar.”