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you know you can't fool me (i've been loving you too long)

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Louise Nixon liked to have a good time.

She liked hanging out with friends and watching new tv shows and eating at new restaurants and getting a little tipsy in her free time.

Well, maybe, more than a little tipsy.

Her affection towards whiskey had gotten out of hand in the past few years, but so far, it hadn’t interrupted her life. While her friend group got older, becoming more reluctant to finishing off bottles as to avoid inescapable hangovers, Nix never quite seemed as affected.

At least she wasn’t drinking at home alone, she’d argue, which always seemed to indicate something a lot deeper was going on. Nix could take herself to the bar and sit around with her friends, pay her tab and drunkenly find her way home like a big girl.

They’d gotten together on a Thursday night for a bit of light celebration. A pre-celebration celebration as not everyone was willing to attend during the week, but the plan was already too far in action to cancel.

After months of waiting and disappointing communication with the school, Ronnie had finally gotten a letter of acceptance into the graduate program.

To congratulate her, they’d decided the best way was to spend far too much money on booze since Ronnie had already agreed to pay more for school, so what was a few extra dollars?

Ronnie had been dragged out by Nix and Harry, who brought along Cara, of course, and Kitty was a tried-and-true drinking partner, so she was there as well. Buck had been able to drop by for half a drink before rushing off, and Ruth had a desk full of work left to do, but waved Nix on, none too hurt to be left out.

(“Some of us have to work sometimes,” Ruth had said, barely sparing a glance over her laptop. No matter how hard she tried, she wasn’t very good at keeping up her poker face around Nix, especially since she knew that comment was always met with an indignant gasp.

“Well, some of us know when to have a good time. And then know how to make up for lost time on the weekends,” Nix rebutted, and Ruth held out a hand to call her over closer.

“That’s me - too foolish to know what a good time is. Guess I haven’t had a good enough teacher.”

Ruth dragged Nix into her lap regardless, kissing her quiet before Nix could start up another argument.

“You can just show me what I missed when you get home,” Ruth said, and shook her wrist to take a look at her watch. “I’m pretty sure you’re going to be late.”

“The host can’t be late,” Nix replied, but she pressed a noisy kiss to her girlfriend’s cheek before heading towards the door. She grinned at the exasperated look on Ruth’s face. “Maybe if you kept your papers a little shorter, you could finally come out with us.”

Nix ducked out the door when Ruth threw a pencil at her, but stuck her head back in when the coast was clear.

“Geez, I love you, too,” she replied playfully, but closed the door before Ruth had the idea to throw anything heavier at her.)

They’d been coming to this bar for years now.

There was a booth in the back corner Nix, Ruth, and Harry had reserved sophomore year, and as the group expanded to include new friends and girlfriends, they learned to squeeze.

By the time Nix arrived, Harry and Kitty were each down two shots and halfway through whatever too-sweet cocktail the bartender recommended. Ronnie had a beer she looked to be sharing with Cara (likely a result of Cara holding the car keys, but Harry whining over drinking alone).

“Finally!” Harry said, and Kitty tumbled from the booth first to wrap her arms around Nix.

Harry had yet to learn she was very much incapable of holding her liquor and that Kitty could probably drink them all under the table. She was much too polite to do so, unwilling to ruin her lipstick on anything other than kissing Harry when the night got long, but she still seemed to have a good time.

“Hi, Nix,” Kitty smiled, but Harry interrupted them by joining into the hug.

“Hi, everyone. Ruth sends her ‘hellos’ as well.”

“No, she didn’t,” Ronnie interjected, and Nix shrugged.

“Yeah, she thinks we’re all incredibly lazy and will regret this tomorrow morning. But she sends her congratulations.”

After Nix shook Harry off and Kitty had corralled her back into the booth, she stopped by the bar for the first time that evening. One drink was had in a single sip at the counter while the other was taken back to the table.

“What did I miss?” She questioned, squeezing in beside Kitty. “It’s been, what, three days since we’ve all been together?”

Cara shook her head fondly, recounting the last bit of the story she’d been in whilst Nix arrived. Her and Ronnie lived with a handful of rambunctious kittens (that rather hated Nix, which she was perfectly okay with), and these kittens rather enjoyed destroying their house.

How Ronnie tolerated the cat hair regardless her allergies was a prime example of idiotic lesbian love, and Nix was about the only person who could get away with mentioning something about it.

Nix finished half of her drink without considering she’d now have to return to the bar earlier than anticipated and fixed Ronnie with a look.

“How disappointing those kitties tore up your favorite pillow,” Nix replied, but her tone was far less sympathetic and more know-it-all.

Ronnie didn’t seem to enjoy the implication. “Maybe you should come to babysit some time,” she offered in a similar fakely sweet voice. If they’d been a few drinks deeper and a couple years younger, she probably would have split her drink all in Nix’s lap and then Nix would have pulled her hair.

“I’ve got an empty space in my bed, if you just need a little vacation,” she mentioned. “And, of course , you’re invited as well, Cara,” Nix promised with an overly done wink that had Cara rolling her eyes in a way Ruth would have as well had she been there.

“Why aren’t we ever invited to anything?” Harry asked, a hand on Kitty’s thigh and another holding her nearly empty glass.

That’s why,” Ronnie pointedly looked at their closeness.

“It’s not my fault that Kitty’s more adventurous than both your girls,” she bit back.


Kitty choked a scandalized noise that had them all dissolving into helpless giggles, and Nix took care to not spill any whiskey on her way down.

 

##

“Christina Aguilera, XTina, no -” Nix tried to count off, stumbling over the names.

Ronnie smirked at her from across the booth, and Nix lazily held out her middle finger.

They’d both slid down on the seats, Ronnie sinking into her girlfriend’s side while Nix had moved in, hugging the wall. Harry and Kitty had disappeared towards the bar twenty minutes before, though no one was sure Harry would be able to make it back.

“Again! From the top!” Ronnie declared loudly, and Cara shushed her almost as loud.

“Okay. Fine,” Nix muttered. “Fuck, marry, kill -” she began slowly, pushing herself up in an attempt to focus better at crafting the question at hand. “Uh, XTina, JLo -” In her attempt to focus, she stumbled, both in her words and her balance, and she came crashing back down on the seat, hitting her head against the wall.

“You okay?” Cara asked quickly, sitting forward.

“Yeah,” Nix replied, but didn’t make another attempt at sitting up. Had Ruth been here, Nix probably would have complained and let herself be coddled.

“Maybe it’s time to call it a night,” Cara suggested, and Ronnie groaned from her side. “Okay, maybe it’s time forNix to call it a night.”

Nix shook her head. She wasn’t thatdrunk. She’d hardly had a lot to drink, and maybe she was just feeling it more laying down because she didn’t have to be pretending for anyone. “Nah, I’m good here.”

“Nix?” Cara replied. “What the hell did you just say?”

Sure, maybe Nix’s speech could get a little slurry and jumbled up, but that wasn’t much worse than when she’d gone a few days without solid sleep.

“- Nix.”

“Yes?” She questioned quickly, and if the table hadn’t been so close, she probably would have been startled out of the seat.

“Just checking you’re still there.” Cara assured, and much quieter to herself, “Jesus Christ.”

Time stretched in strange ways for Nix when she was drunk. With Ruth, the evenings could either last forever or a split second, one moment at her side in the booth, the next beneath a couple blankets. With everyone else, she was fine until the first time she closed her eyes, then she lost all concept of time.

She usually didn’t have to worry much about bailing out early on. Nix could go a lot longer than most the people here, and often had to be convinced to stop.

Harry was fine unless she was on her feet for a long period of time, then the alcohol got to her, and her balance was shot, making her sick. Ronnie could last until she decided to lean against Cara, and once she’d started her move horizontal, she maxed out. Cara never seemed to get too wasted at any given time, so she could pull herself from the ring without issue. Ruth had only ever had a few sips through the years, likely making her responsible for stopping Nix.

When she opened her eyes again, - truthfully surprised they’d even been closed - Ronnie was half in Cara’s lap and fully asleep, while Cara scrolled through her phone.

Nix felt a little woozy, like she was 16 again, just having finished off a ridiculously expensive bottle of aged liquor stolen from her dad’s collection in a stranger’s basement. Getting sick while drinking was not something she experienced and was one of the reasons she stuck to whiskey instead of sugary cocktails.

Had Ruth been there, she probably would have gone through her day with her immediately, attempting to bring about an answer to the problem.

Nix belatedly remembered the migraine she’d dealt with in the early that morning, a rather shitty ending to a 40 hour stint without sleeping, followed by the half gallon of ice cream she’d eaten before noon.

She’d drank plenty of times on an empty stomach, but rarely under the other circumstances, so it was no wonder the whiskey was hitting her a little harder than normal.

“Nix,” she heard.

If she tried hard enough, she could probably swat the voice away.

“Lou,” it tried again, but much sweeter.

“Huh?” Nix replied, like a master of the English language, and blinked awake in the low light.

“Come on. You’ll be better off in our bed than here,” she said, and hands tenderly grabbed hers.

Nix managed what she hoped was a skeptical face, but followed along as she was pulled upright.

When she almost immediately lost her balance, those hands slid expertly to her waist.

“Hey!” Nix said sharply. If she had perhaps a bit more energy, she would have jumped away, but she figured Ruth would understand.

“It would be a lot easier if you just leaned on me. This isn’t my first time doing this, you know.”

“Doing what?”

“What do you think? I’m taking you home and getting you in bed.”

The words startled Nix enough that she lost her balance in an appropriately dramatic way that sent both of them tumbling to the floor.

“You okay?” She was asked, hand coming to her arm.

“Stop that!” Nix replied, pushing away the hand and sliding back on the floor, stopping when she was sitting far enough away to look on comfortably.

She was met with an exasperated sigh. “Lou, please. Let’s get home, and then you can get back to sleep.”

Nix spared a glance around her. “I’mnotgoing home with you.”

“Oh, geez, here we go."

“Don’t ‘oh geez' me! Tell me why the hell I would go home with you.”

“Are we really doing this - fine. I guess because you usually get lucky the morning after drinking all night. I don’t know. Is that what you’re looking for?”

Nix could barely put together more than a few confused sounds, and tried to find a familiar face of her friends in the people nearest to them. It only made her more offended that her friends would just up and leave her like this.

“Come on, Lou -”

“Stop calling me that -”

“Can we please just go home?” When she reached out again for Nix, Nix snapped.

“Thanks. But no thanks. You’re cute and all, but you are not my type -”

“What are you -”

“I have a girlfriend!” Nix said firmly, more than a little put out. If she were a bit more sober, she probably would have threatened a fight, no matter how angry Ruth would have been with her.

“I know!” Was the response given. Before Nix could open her mouth again and begin her fight, she was stunned with, “I'm your girlfriend!”

Nix paused, considering. Then, she narrowed her eyes. “You are not going to trick me into your bed.”

Not-Ruth let out a heavy noise and dropped back to the ground, instead of the half-squat she had been in, waiting to pull Nix back to her feet.

“How dare you? Coming to take advantage of me when I’m alone. I’m taken. Happily taken. She makes me happier than I ever thought I could be, and I don’t know how I deserve her, but you're not going to ruin it! I’d never do something like this to her. She deserves the world and not some dumb drunk, and definitely not some dumb slutty drunk who goes home with the first pretty girl who asks.”

Nix was angry, frustrated at the very thought of someone hurting Ruth in such a way, and even more so at the thought of herself being the one to do it. She’d never forgive herself after something like that, and it made her sicker to even consider.

“Who do you even think you are? I wish I was more sober - fuck! - so I could tell you how - how mad I am! I love Ruth Winters with everything I have. I don’t care about you, or me, or any other woman in this bar. She is the best person in the world, and I love her so much.”

Nix may have been stumbling over her words, trying to talk as fast as she could while still making semi-intelligent phrases, but the moment Not-Ruth opened her mouth, she waved her quiet and kept on going.

“No! You don’t get to say anything. I would do anything for her, no questions asked, and some - some bar floozy isn’t going to ruin the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Fuck! I think about her all the time and want nothing but the best for her, and I want nothing more than to put a ring on her finger and call her my wife. And you're not about to ruin 6 years of hopeless devotion and sneaky as fuck hiding of the ring I bought 5 years and 11 months ago.”

What?" Not-Ruth whispered, and Nix felt gratified, pleased with how her words seemed to be making enough sense to convince her into finally backing off.

“I love my girlfriend so much,” she said slowly. “I mean, we’ve already been together for so long. I should have done it earlier, but I wanted to make it special. Wanted to wait until she’d graduated, again,‘til she’d gotten that degree she’s so proud of, that I'm so proud of." Nix continued, and she supposed she should feel a little bit more embarrassed about shouting her love from the bar floor, tears hopelessly forming in the corners of her eyes.

She wasn’t much of an angry crier, or really, much of a crier at all. Nix figured if she had to cry about something, it might as well be the love of her life.

“And you're coming in here, trying to ruin it!”

“Lou, please,” Not-Ruth interrupted, and she looked a little upset as well, but Nix didn’t quite trust her eyes. “Oh, baby,” she murmured, crawling in closer, her hands coming to rest tenderly on her cheeks.

Nix was looked at in such a way, held so carefully, she only knew one person capable of such a thing.

There was no way to stop the tears that had already tracked down her cheeks, and as much as she tried, she wasn’t able to hold back the new onslaught of emotion.

“Ruthie,” she whispered, and pulled on her shirt, the faded blue t-shirt Nix bought during high school but had quickly been stolen by her freshman roommate just a few days after they started dating. She wrapped her arms around her, burying her face in the familiar material.

Ruth held her, tight, steadfast and unwilling to let go. “Why don’t we head home now?” She suggested, barely speaking aloud.

Nix knew her, was close enough to know what she thought and said, and nodded slowly.

She didn’t have to ask again, just got off the floor and helped Nix along with her. Ruth wrapped an arm around her waist, and Nix didn’t try to fight her off this time.

Nix didn’t say anything more until they’d made it safely into the apartment, Ruth guiding her to sit on the edge of the bed while she found a clean pair of pajamas.

She helped pull Nix from her clothes, slow and intimate, in a way that carried a different feeling than when she did this late at night, the both of them with red cheeks and lust in their eyes. Ruth was good at taking care of Nix and always had been, and Nix wanted nothing more than to be able to return the favor.

“Ruthie,” she began again, raising her arms sloppily as Ruth directed and not letting the shirt being pulled over her head distract her too much.

“Hm?”

“I love you. I meant what I said in the bar. All of it. All of it and more. I wanna marry you. I wanna make you as happy as you make me,” Nix said, and while she said, she realized she had no reason or time to even be embarrassed. “Marry me? Please?”

Ruth avoided looking at her until she’d finished combing Nix’s hair out and spinning it up in a bun. She could see just the hint of a smile on her face as she worked, her eyes looking a little damp.

Nix reached a hand out to grab Ruth’s when she took a step back. “Ruth?” She asked in a small voice.

“I heard you, Nix,” she said, and leaned in to press a gentle kiss to both her cheeks. “I would have married you in a heartbeat if you’d asked me 5 years and 11 months ago. I love you, and I will always love you. But why don’t we wait until tomorrow, and you can ask me again?” She asked, and it sounded a lot like she knew Nix would probably feel frustrated with her drunken self by ruining the surprise and getting all sappy in public.

She blinked slowly and managed a slow nod. “I’m gonna pretend you said yes,” Nix replied and managed to crawl a few inches up the bed before collapsing.

Nix hadn’t quite made it up to the pillows, so Ruth moved one down for her and shifted the blankets around to keep her covered. She moved beneath the blankets beside her, and Nix immediately curled at her side.

Ruth wrapped an arm around her, and Nix felt safe enough to close her eyes again. “Sorry I forgot who you were.”

She could feel Ruth laugh beneath her. “Sorry you thought I was a - what did you say? A bar floozy trying to pick you up.”

“Hey!” Nix protested but couldn’t help but laugh at herself. “That’s my fianc ée you’re talking about.”