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Lead Me Out

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You'll wear those shoes and I will wear that dress, oh, kiss me.

How do I look?’

Stella turned around slowly to find the eyes of the person belonging to the silky soft voice coming from behind her. She blinked twice, three times just to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. ‘Wow, Dana,’ she said sincerely. Extending her hand she let her eyes wander all across Dana’s appearance, taking in her beauty as she felt Dana’s hand land softly in hers.

It was a sunny autumn afternoon somewhere in the English countryside. Stella had surprised Dana with an invitation to a friend’s wedding, Dana hadn’t hesitated and had said yes immediately, and she hadn’t regretted a second of it as today had been one of the most magical days in her life. Dana had arrived only this morning and they’d spent the past few hours driving to the magical location. The drive had been a quick three hours as they had been incredibly happy to be together again and all too soon the gate to a cobblestone path had been opened before them and they’d arrived. The scenery was that of a movie, fantastical and beautiful, and even though Stella was familiar with this part of England Dana had seen a wonder similar to hers on Stella’s face a couple of times as well.

The invitation had been for a weekend, today having been the day of everyone’s arrival. They would be staying in a barn that had been repurposed along with some other buildings on the property to function as guest houses. It really was a wonderful idea, very British, and with glorious lush fields on the one side and a lake on the other there really wasn’t anything else anyone could hope for. The fact that they were together again only made them happier and Dana had pointed out time and time again her gratitude towards the grooms and Stella for inviting her. Stella just smiled when she said it. Mike, Stella’s good friend, had embraced her like she was family and told her the wedding wouldn’t have been complete without the two of them. Dana had only met them once before but she could see the love and deep friendship that was there between Stella and the happy couple and Dana felt blessed to be invited.

She had felt slightly anxious before, telling Stella a few times that she could go alone, that she felt like she would not belong, she was afraid of feeling out of place and she was scared she’d somehow ruin some aspect of this experience for either Stella or her friends. Stella had remained calm and confident, rooted in reality and firmly seated in her conviction as she had told Dana time and time again that there was nothing to fear. She hadn’t belittled Dana’s anxiety, but she had stood by her and they had talked about it rationally. Stella had explained the long standing relationship she had with the groom and how he had insisted she bring along and she’d shown her how he hadn’t stopped his extensive array of complimentary texts to Stella after having met Dana the first time. Dana had confessed her unease and mild feelings of displacement at weddings to Stella and Stella had made a confession herself: This would be the second wedding ever she would attend and the first she would enjoy.

They were getting ready to go out for dinner by the water. The sun was slowly setting and they’d already seen the white tables that were set up behind the main structure, and Dana had sighed in wonder when she’d first discovered it. Taking Stella’s hand she smiled at the way Stella looked her over, seemingly approving of her choice of a thin denim-look dress with a light knitted c ardigan. She knew Stella liked the dress as Stella had picked it out for her the day before. Stella herself was wearing a cream colored blouse and denim skirt, making them a perfectly matching couple, and Dana made sure to smile appreciatively as well before taking Stella’s hand and allowing her to lead her out into the yard.

Mike and Thomas were waiting for Stella and her girlfriend on the great green lawn of the property that would host their wedding. As they saw the two women approach Thomas softly squeezed Mike’s hand. ‘They are so fabulous together,’ he said. Mike nodded, feeling moderately proud of his good friend for finally having followed her heart. ‘ They look happy.’ ‘They remind me of us, in the beginning,’ Thomas said, his voice hushed as the two approached. ‘Don’t let Stel hear you say that,’ Mike winked at him. ‘She might think you mistake her for a softie.’ ‘Oh come on,’ Thomas poked his elbow in Mike’s side, ‘Deep down she is and you know it.’ ‘And I love it,’ Mike agreed.

Love what?’ Stella smiled as she opened her arms to hug Mike, her long time confidant and friend. Mike welcomed her, kissing her on the lips before pulling her in for a cuddle before turning to Dana. ‘Nothing, dear. I’m so glad you’re both here. You are looking so good!’ He kissed Scully on the cheek before taking her hand and extending his arm, twirling Scully around. ‘Stel, you didn’t tell me she had a sense of fashion too!’ ‘Stella picked the dress,’ Dana laughed as Mike released her. She hooked her arm through Stella’s and leaned her head on Stella’s shoulder before looking around and taking in the scenery. ‘I’d say you are the ones with a sense of fashion, so I’m still taking that as a massive compliment.’ ‘You should, dear. Stella might have picked out that dress but you are rocking. It,’ he emphasized his words. Thomas greeted them both as well and pointed towards the tables behind him. ‘Find a spot, doesn’t matter where. The buffet is over there,’ he indicated. Stella smiled at him and looked over at Dana for a moment. Her cheeks were already slightly flushed with excitement and her hair shone brightly in the evening light. Their eyes found each other and they were lost in the moment until Mike sighed audibly. ‘All right, you two, head over there. Or get a room, but you’re making the rest of us look like amateurs.’ Stella threw him a look that spoke of both gratitude and a warning and Mike held up his hands in defense, smiling at the cheeky glint in Stella’s eyes.

Dana was the one to surprise both of them as she gently drew her arm away from Stella’s and put her hand on Stella’s back, her thumb on Stella’s spine causing her skin to gravitate towards Dana’s warmth. ‘I’ll keep her in check,’ Dana winked at the men, and Stella cocked her eyebrow. ‘We’ll see about that,’ she smiled, and she allowed Dana to lead her past her friends onto the lawn and towards two white chairs that Dana had chosen as their seating for the evening.

Scully was very aware of her hand on Stella’s back. She couldn’t remember a time where she had done this and as she thought about it her eyes were drawn to where her hand was casually holding the fabric of Stella’s blouse beneath her fingers. They reached the chairs and Stella turned around to grasp Dana’s wrist before kissing her lightly. Stella pulled one of the chairs back for Scully and Scully accepted it gratefully, the smile that had taken up residence on her lips no longer baring any trace of her previous anxiety. ‘Thank you,’ she said softly. Stella just blinked in affirmation.

When Dana didn’t sit down Stella smiled curiously at her. Scully held her eyes confidently, although Stella saw a slight trace of nerves run through the waves of blue and turquoise before her. Around them more people were starting to join, taking their seats, greetings being tossed around the table as many people knew each other. Stella’s attention was drawn to a few coworkers and she smiled courteously at them in recognition, but didn’t pay them much attention otherwise. ‘Stella,’ Dana said softly, and Stella’s eyes snapped back to hers. The muscles of Dana’s lips had relaxed and written across her face was pure peace, held together by fragile but golden threads of confidence and happiness. ‘Kiss me,’ Dana requested softly, and Stella’s eyes darted across her face to her lips and back up again.

There were a lot of people around. The crowd was humming around them, the sound isolating them as well as including them and Stella felt simultaneously very visible and very hidden as she granted Dana an answer with her eyes before her lips. Dana leaned in, overpowering everything and everyone in the yard with her silent words that shone from her eyes, her face and from her fingertips as they found Stella’s forearms. Stella stepped closer and pulled Dana in, circling one hand around her, Stella’s fingers curving into her spine to reclaim their spot as Dana gasped and leaned in without hesitation.

Oblivious to the outside world for a few minutes neither of them noticed how the crowd lowered their voices as they watched in awe. This wasn’t the couple they were here for, but what they were witnessing was something special nonetheless. Wives looked at their husbands, some wistful, some with a fire in their eyes that would have to wait until after dinner to be quenched. One or two memories were triggered. A few tears ran down smooth or age-rippled cheeks, some hands and souls found each other quietly under or above the white table cloth as everyone watched how Stella kissed her girlfriend as per request. As she leaned in Stella could name a few people at this table who knew the touch of her lips, but none of them knew the touch of her soul and it was for that fact that she wasn’t afraid to grant Dana’s request. None of them knew anything. The only thing that mattered was now, and now she missed Dana’s touch and she had desperately missed her lips since their hello kiss at the airport. She captured Dana’s bottom lip she felt nothing but air around her, light, white and pink and sunny and ginger all collided in her brain as she kissed Dana Scully a proper hello.


Chapter Text

Kiss me, down by the broken tree house

 

During dinner Stella kept a close eye on Scully, making sure she was comfortable above all. She recognized Dana’s slight social anxiety from herself, although they had completely different ways of coping with it she knew how crippling and horrible it would be if Dana felt excluded. As she watched Dana interact with some of her coworkers Stella felt her heart swell with love and pride – She is with me, she found herself thinking. I get to know this woman and I get to call her mine.

After dessert people slowly left the table, some off for an evening walk, some heading back to their rooms to unpack for the weekend. Soon only Mike and Thomas remained, wrapped up in conversation with some staff members after handing everyone tomorrow’s program. Before long Stella and Scully were surrounded by white chairs pushed in all directions, scattered like the molecules of their brains, but one thing remained. Stella’s hand that had found Dana’s upper thigh halfway through their lava cake had rooted itself there, grounding her and Dana and connecting them with invisible ropes that had always existed but sometimes needed to be strengthened by touch. ‘What do you want to do now?’ Scully asked hesitantly after they’d said goodbye to the last couple. She felt some guests look back at them before they walked down one of the pebbled paths and it didn’t make her uncomfortable, but it was strange to suddenly be in Stella’s spotlight. She felt seen and she knew people were talking about them, or about Stella, but Stella didn’t seem to mind so she decided to follow Stella’s lead. She truly didn’t care what others thought of them. All she cared about was that she was here with Stella, and that Stella wanted her here. She felt loved and accepted, by her girlfriend but also by the grooms and their closest friends. However she couldn’t help but wonder about her own friends and family – they didn’t know of Stella’s existence and Scully knew sooner or later Stella would ask her about it. She dreaded the moment, but she didn’t dread the question – there was nothing but love. No shame or any real concerns , not for Stella. However there were doubts. Doubts and fears, for what her family might think, what they might say… After all no one would expect this or see it coming . She certainly hadn’t.

Stella watched Dana as she asked the question and saw her mind wander as the words left her lips. Dana’s mind had wandered quite a bit today, and she must be tired, Stella knew. The story that played across the stage of Dana’s eyes, her confidence there but thin as ice drew Stella in more and more as time went on. She knew there were questions. And she knew she had some answers. Finally she found the space to put all of that aside for now as Mike and Thomas threw them a knowing smile and walked off – they were alone now, unspoken words would no longer be drowned out by others and their loudly projected possible opinions. Stella focused on Dana’s gaze and heard her question in her mind. What do you want to do now. She wanted to kiss her, touch her, show her how much she loved her and how every second they spent with each other made up the thread that held her life together and gave it structure and meaning . But that probably wasn’t the answer Dana was looking for, so Stella squeezed her leg and released her before rubbing her own thighs and standing. She reached out a hand to Dana and watched as Dana turned her eyes up towards the darkening sky and the stars in Stella’s shining eyes. ‘Walk with me,’ Stella asked, and Scully smiled in affirmation. ‘Okay.’

Neither of them knew the way but as they walked it reminded them both of their very first walk. The walk that had taken them from an old subway station to a field in Central Park, where neither of them had known exactly where they were or even what they were doing but both of them had learned very quickly not to care or to be too closed off with each other. They had learned to trust each other and their instincts and there was nothing either had ever been taught that had proved more valuable. So today, together, walking through a fairytale-like land of lights and a sky on fire they trusted themselves, and they trusted each other. The sun was setting quickly and all around them fairy lights lit up the branches of old and new trees surrounding white pebbled paths that seemingly lead nowhere and everywhere at once. Scully let Stella guide her, her fingers firmly between hers and her footsteps never far behind the sound of Stella’s cream colored heels. Scully felt young and free and slightly out of place within that feeling but she’d felt it before and she had decided that it wasn’t a bad thing, just new, the heavy weight of her life suddenly bearable and rooted firmly beneath her feet lifting her up instead of on her shoulders weighing her down.

They soon reached an old, large tree with a big tire hanging horizontally from its branches like a swing and a few stumps set up to act as makeshift chairs to the side. Their eyes met in silent recognition as memories met in the middle . ‘ Come sit down ,’ Dana suggested and Stella released her hand to sit on one of the bigger pieces of wood, her body turned towards Dana. She leaned on one of her hands and she was glad when Dana settled next to her, intentionally close and with her eyes on Stella’s, relentlessly reading and intentionally challenging her. ‘Dinner was nice,’ Stella smiled at her, evading every quiet question and request in Dana’s eyes. ‘It was,’ Scully played along as her voice trembled with tense happiness. ‘Mike and Thomas are great. I’m really happy I decided to tag along.’ ‘You’re hardly tagging along,’ Stella murmured, her voice low and sweet. ‘I’d say there were more eyes on you than anyone else.’ Dana sighed. ‘Is that supposed to flatter me?’ she teased. ‘Not particularly,’ Stella said honestly, ‘But it flattered me a great deal. You deserve to be acknowledged not just for your outstanding beauty, but for your intelligence and your immensely gracious nature. Everyone at that table felt it. You are an incredible human being and I’m both proud and honored you chose to come with me and be by my side.’ Scully blushed at Stella’s candor. It only came out on rare occasions, occasions like this when they would be together but alone. Only when she felt truly safe did Stella allow her heart to take down her guard and her truth to be spoken like this. Scully looked up at Stella who sat proudly next to her, her back straight, her chin raised to emphasize the smile that radiated from her eyes and curled around her lips. Scully felt her body succumb to Stella’s, settle in the moment and finally release that deep tension that had been etched into her heart since she had landed in the UK. She had, up until that moment, been hanging on to that last tiny bit of anxiety telling her that she didn’t belong. Telling her that she shouldn’t be there, that she wasn’t worthy. Stella’s honesty melted away the remainder of Dana’s doubts and she felt her lips tingle, her body already thinking of other memories to relive. ‘You know I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,’ she said softly, reminding Stella gently of the possibilities and promises that drifted between them like fireflies, radiant, but evasive. Stella held her eyes without backing down but didn’t say anything.

Do you remember the first time we really sat down together?’ Scully asked Stella after a few seconds as she directed her vision to the lake before them. The waves were cobbling softly on the wind, the sound of the crashing water calming both of them and bringing them to a place of introspection. They were alone, all alone except for the old tree listening with the tire lightly moving on the wind behind them and the vast surface of the water whispering to them where to go. Stella watched as the fairy lights on the tree illuminated Dana’s cheekbone, sparkled in her eyes and set her hair on fire with their soft luminescence. She looked like a modern day goddess and Stella drank her in, committing this version of her to memory along with every other version she had ever had the pleasure of seeing. ‘Of course,’ she said softly, aware of her mind slowly wandering back to those memories that were fond and treasured yet scary to revisit. ‘We were different people back then.’ Scully nodded and pursed her lips before licking them and turning to look back at Stella. ‘I don’t know how we ended up here, but I’m very grateful that everything worked out like this,’ she said. Stella’s eyes glistened and called to her, and Scully pushed herself up to look closer into Stella’s beaming mirrors. She saw herself, or an image of herself through Stella’s eyes and it stunned and anchored her as she saw what Stella saw before her. ‘The first time we sat down together I wasn’t sure what we were doing,’ Scully admitted softly. Stella smiled. ‘You’re always looking for reasons.’ ‘It’s what I was taught to do,’ Scully said, and Stella’s smile turned melancholy. ‘It’s not every day you meet someone who can teach you so much about yourself,’ she mused out loud. ‘That’s the only thing I was afraid of back then. Of your eyes seeing me. Knowing me.’ ‘But that’s why you asked me to stay,’ Scully reminded her. ‘Not before you’d seen enough about me to knock on my door at an ungodly hour,’ Stella teased softly. She knew Dana was right and Dana’s smirk gave it all away.

Why was it so hard to let me see you?’ Scully asked quietly, her hand finding Stella’s and clutching it on Stella’s thigh. Stella breathed in slowly, focusing on the sound of the waves, listening to their rhythm and finding peace in their predictability. Some things would always stay the same. And some things were meant to never be static, to never stop changing. Dana and hers relationship was one of those things. Always in motion. Always challenging, never easy, never even predictable even though Dana was always there. A beacon. A watchtower watching over a sea of change. Stella grew up surrounded by the sea, encompassed by its ravishing turbulence and whisked away on the dark adventure of her life by its relentless waves. She had learned how to sail, how to swim, and how to drown without dying and, when it was all over and the waves had subsided, how to emerge from the depths like a sunken treasure dislodged from its burial site by a mermaid. A red-haired, beautiful, strong, smart and challenging mermaid that wanted nothing more than to walk away from Stella’s rough seas and to ease her thundering fears.

Stella pondered Dana’s question for a long time, longer than Dana felt comfortable with, and Stella anticipated Dana’s words before she heard them. ‘Don’t answer that, I know,’ Scully’s lips told her. The fingers around her hand squeezed her and Stella felt Scully’s eyes on her face, and she knew Dana was right. ‘Then what?’ she asked, needing Dana to tell her. Dana sighed, shifted closer and leaned her chin on Stella’s shoulder. As she licked her lips Stella felt the edge of Dana’s tongue just below her jawline. Goosebumps erupted across her neck but she ignored them for now.

You were afraid I wouldn’t like the truth of you. That if you showed too much I’d run. And I almost did, but it had nothing to do with you because I had the same fears, Stella. Fears are irrational. Life doesn’t make sense, least of all to people like us. But it’s when we accepted change and unpredictability as a given, that’s when the magic happened. I came to New York looking for peace. So did you. We found it in an unexpected way… and we’ll keep finding it in unexpected ways and situations but I love that. I have no idea what is next but as long as it’s anything to do with you I’m so ready for it.’

Stella swallowed and pushed her cheek slightly closer into Dana’s hair. ‘ I didn’t date and I didn’t fall in love,’ she whispered. Scully chuckled. ‘Well, like you said, we were different people. Not better or worse, just… different. You changed me. And I don’t understand it but I don’t think I’m meant to. I’m meant to experience it.’ Stella heard Dana’s voice waver and she felt the inevitable tears well up in her own eyes like the rising flood that threatened to overflow Dana’s heart. ‘I love you,’ Dana whispered softly, and Stella pulled her hand free from Dana’s to catch her chin and pull back to look at her. She allowed time to slow down around them as she watched the veil that had obscured all of Dana’s tension and fears throughout the day slowly rip and release everything Dana had been holding back. A tear escaped and many followed, Dana’s lips quivered and Stella whimpered as she pulled Dana close, kissing her deeply, drinking in her doubts and questions and leaving nothing but love and adoration behind. Scully gave everything, pressing her lips into Stella’s, allowing her tongue to play and make love with Stella’s as everything she thought and felt poured out of her into the open air around them.

The tree above them sighed. The tire swung softly on the wind. The gentle music of the waves guided the rhythm of their hearts as they came together, truly reconnecting through memories and emotions and insecurities. A wedding, they thought simultaneously as they pulled back to find each other’s eyes. One of them was forever the spinster, the promiscuous one that everyone gossiped about and lusted after but one rarely truly dared to know or love. The other one was loved by many but asked by none, even though there had up until this point been only one person that would have gotten a favorable answer. There was not one place that would be less likely for them to want to be. Their minds met again and they laughed, together, tears in their eyes but happiness in their hearts as the situation didn’t hit them as ironic but as beautifully appropriate, as just another river bend leading to the water finding its way to the sea, melting and absorbing their bravery and solidity and learning to live as one.

As Scully leaned back against Stella’s shoulder and looked up in utter happiness her eyes found their way through the dark willow branches and spotted something. ‘Oh look, Stella,’ she said, her voice giddy and happy. She pointed upwards and Stella followed her gaze, quickly finding the object of Dana’s attention. ‘Is that a tree house?’ Stella grinned, pushing herself up. Dana nodded. ‘I think it is.’ Stella stood up. ‘Well, we need to check that out.’ ‘Are you insane?’ Dana frowned, a smile playing around her lips at Stella’s ridiculous idea. ‘What?’ Stella shrugged. ‘Afraid you can’t get down?’ ‘I don’t need to remind you I’m wearing a dress,’ Scully pointed down at the garment that wasn’t confining but would definitely impede her tree-climbing skills. ‘And I’m in a dress and heels. Come on,’ Stella extended her hand. Dana sighed and let Stella pull her up before following her to the base of the tree. ‘You’re crazy,’ Dana reminded her as Stella kicked off her shoes and pulled her skirt up above her knees. ‘I know. Let’s go.’

Too soon Stella was halfway to the tree house and Dana felt a desire stir up inside of her. She couldn’t let Stella be up there by herself, she thought. The feigned annoyance she’d been putting on slowly faded and as she rolled her eyes at the mockingly quiet lake she turned around. ‘All right,’ she said to herself, kicking off her shoes and planting her foot on the first firm foothold she could find. ‘If I die it’s your fault.’ ‘Sorry, what was that?’ Stella called down, a smug smile on her face. ‘Nothing, just be careful,’ Scully groaned as she pulled herself up onto a thicker branch. The tree was easier to climb than she’d thought and it reminded her of her childhood, climbing trees in the backyard and trying to hide from her parents with friends and later, with her first boyfriend. She smiled to herself at the memories, quietly grateful to Stella for helping them emerge. She looked up to where Stella had reached the tree house. ‘Is it safe?’ she called, not wanting Stella to fall through if the wood was old and moldy. ‘Some parts, yes,’ Stella called back. ‘I’ll be fine Dana.’ Scully nodded and climbed up another level. Stella extended her hand for Dana to grasp. Dana smiled at her and let Stella pull her up to where a wooden structure formed the floor of an old safe house, undoubtedly old but surprisingly sturdy as it was hidden below a roof of branches and leaves and some wooden beams that were there to help nature in protecting this little gem. There was a hole in the middle of the flooring, and the roof was partially gone but there was plenty of room left for one adult to sit comfortably in its safety.

Stella sat in the entrance, an old, asymmetrical roof rising above her, and Scully smirked at the sight before her. There was a green smudge on Stella’s cream blouse and she saw the side of Stella’s skirt was dirty from climbing. Her pantyhose was torn at the knees and one of Stella’s toes poked out from a rip in the delicate fabric. Dana’s heart clenched unexpectedly at the sight before her, this being a side of Stella she hadn’t really seen before. It reminded her again of something from their first days together and as she let her eyes wander across Stella’s appearance she felt Stella’s mind follow hers. Dana settled on a branch in front of Stella, tangling their feet together, Stella’s free toe softly caressing a green smudge on Dana’s bare thigh. ‘ What is it about greenery that brings out the children in us?’ Stella wondered out loud. ‘Us? In you, you mean,’ Scully smirked. Stella raised her eyebrow but didn’t answer. Scully continued. ‘I….. I don’t think it’s the greenery. I think it’s the company.’

Stella sighed deeply, letting Dana’s words and the truth they bore sink in. The Rambles in New York had brought out the slightly more daring side of her that had later allowed Dana to sleep next to her. Right now she felt that same lightness, the airy feeling of fears flying away on the wind or being left behind with the heaviness of the earth as Stella and Scully were carelessly suspended between both.

After a few minutes they heard footsteps on the pebbles beneath them and a slightly surprised but happy voice called to them. ‘Stel? What the hell are you doing up there?’

It was Mike, of course, always the curious one coming to find them and trying to, discreetly, make sure they were okay but being as surprised as Dana to find them in the tree. ‘We’re trying to have sex without being disturbed,’ Stella deadpanned loudly, and Mike laughed a throaty, knowing laugh. ‘Well, I can’t blame you and you wouldn’t be the first. Be careful, you two. Trees can chafe.’

I’m assuming you know that from experience?’ Stella called.

Let’s just say… This tree has seen things. Thank God it doesn’t know how to talk. You two are already the conversation of the evening back at base camp.’

We’ll try to be quiet,’ Stella said, ‘But I’m not making any promises.’

You do look overdressed for a couple that’s trying to have sex,’ Mike grinned up. Stella shrugged. ‘What would you know about how ladies have sex?’

Touché,’ Mike laughed, and bowed his head. ‘Well, I’ll leave you to it. Good night, love.’

Night,’ Stella called.

Stella held Dana’s eyes throughout the whole exchange and watched amused as Dana blushed furiously, biting her lip in shame. Her eyes widened and she tried to speak, but no words came out. Stella just smiled at her, quietly promising her that it was okay, and that Mike could be trusted. When Mike had disappeared Dana’s mouth fell open. ‘Oh my God,’ she whispered finally. She laughed in embarrassment. ‘Just to be clear,’ Stella pointed her chin down, looking at Dana through hooded eyes, ‘I am not having sex with you in this tree.’ Scully held her eyes for a second before smiling wickedly and raising her eyebrows. ‘That’s a shame.’

Chapter Text

We'll take the trail marked on your father's map

An hour later they were back in their room, chilled to the bone but warm on the inside as well. They had one of the smaller guest houses all to themselves, and Stella was grateful – the privacy was something she and Dana would gladly accept after being with others all day. Especially Dana would be more comfortable, Stella knew, and she’d vowed to herself to listen carefully to what Dana wanted and needed as she suspected Dana was as uncomfortable with all of this as she was. Not that they didn’t want to be there – the whole concept of marriage was just something they hadn’t really talked about a lot. Stella knew they’d probably talk about it now. She felt like she wanted to, although she didn’t know what to say. Dana closed the door behind her as Stella turned around to walk to her suitcase. ‘I’m going to take a shower and get clean,’ she said, waving her hand at the stains on her legs. Scully nodded but caught Stella’s hand briskly with hers before Stella could disappear behind the bedroom door. ‘Wait,’ she said, and she pulled Stella close to her.

Stella breathed out slowly and let her eyes study Dana up close. She saw every line, every freckle, every pore on her luminous skin and she wanted to kiss them all, but she waited. Something in Dana’s eyes and tender touch gave Stella the freedom to take her time. She felt Dana’s fingers on her wrist, firm but soft, touching with intention and directness as Stella listened to her soundless story.  She felt Dana release a warm breath across the skin of her cheek and shivered as it tickled her ear. Blinking heavily Stella saw how Dana’s lips followed the smile of her eyes and a cloudy warmth spread through the room as Dana slowly closed the distance between them. She gingerly skimmed her lips across Stella’s, waiting for her, teasing her, but also being very aware of every passing moment between them. Stella opened her mouth slightly, letting her tongue wet her lips and catch Dana’s in the process but otherwise she stayed still. Dana tilted her chin up a little but kept their touch like it was, light and soft and Stella sighed as the tip of Dana’s lip caught on hers.

How long could they stay like this? How long would Stella allow her to breathe her in? Dana wanted to find out, she wanted to stay right here in this second for the rest of her life and she tried with all her might to hang on to the feeling. The air escaping Stella’s mouth brushed past Dana’s lips, sending a trail of goosebumps down her arms and making the hairs on her neck stand on end. The moment seemed to last forever. It grew and it grew between them, holding them under its spell, the spell they had invented and that had taken on a cloud of life itself – The spell that was their love, strange and unpredictable but magical and good as well. Stella felt its weight like a welcome winter sweater around her shoulders and she realized that Dana had let go of her hand, their lips now the only thing barely touching. Stella slowly moved her chin, caressing Dana’s lips with hers in the lightest of touches as the air crackled with crisp electricity between them.

Stella finally inhaled deeply and wrapped her arms around the warm creature in front of her, enveloping her in a hug as her lips skimmed a wet kiss across her cheek to land in her hair. Scully relaxed in Stella’s arms, her fingers finding and curling themselves in Stella’s golden locks, holding her head close to hers as she allowed Stella’s smoldering fire to warm her from the inside out. Suddenly she didn’t want to wait or be separate any more. She wanted to feel this, feel everything, be the sole focus of Stella’s attention like Stella would be hers and she told Stella by a small tilt of her chin into Stella’s neck. Stella’s hands changed course, following the lines of Dana’s body up to her wrists and slowly she pulled away, finding Dana’s eyes with hers. A small frown had formed on the planes of emotion between Stella’s brows and Dana felt her brain search for the dusty dictionary of Stella’s expressions. She was fluent in Stella’s language, but it had been a while since she’d had to read it and somehow worry was the first thing she felt every single time a muscle danced in a way she hadn’t anticipated. However, her brain didn’t disappoint and it didn’t falter as quickly she remembered every feeling and every intricacy of Stella’s heart and mind and she grew confident again. She knew Stella. And as soon as the glint in Stella’s eyes confirmed that, all of Dana’s doubts left her body with the breath she released as Stella slowly tugged on her wrists and finally headed towards her suitcase.

 Quickly they collected their pajamas before Scully followed Stella towards the bathroom. Towels were already waiting for their wet, sated bodies to be wrapped up in so as soon as the door closed behind them Stella turned and pushed Dana’s body up against the cold, tiled surface next to the entrance. She kissed her deeply, opening Dana’s dress button by button as Dana’s hands swiftly pulled her blouse from the waistband of Stella’s skirt. Dana pushed back, walking Stella back towards the shower as she reached behind her to turn on the water. Stella released her and discarded her own blouse and skirt before Dana’s hands took over and ripped the already damaged pantyhose from her body. Dana heard Stella’s smile rather than saw it as her lips found Stella’s again, tangling her hands in Stella’s hair once more until she was forced to let go by Stella who pushed the dress down Dana’s arms and away to the floor. Stella skimmed her hands across Dana’s white underwear, letting her fingers travel the path of the swell of Dana’s breasts along the edge of her bra. Dana took a deep breath, pushing into Stella’s touch, and Stella squeezed her flesh before dropping a kiss on the soft skin of Dana’s chest.

They made it into the shower and their eyes met under the hot cascade that grounded and released them of their worries. A page turned and Stella’s expression grew immensely soft again, all need and hurry gone again as soon as she could wrap Dana in her arms without any barrier between them. Clothes and pretenses gone, they stood together for a few minutes to collect their thoughts and reaffirm what they had together – every shared memory, every touch, every word, until finally Dana was the one to softly find Stella’s lips with hers again.

Their kiss was unhurried, languid, as was the path their hands took as they slowly reacquainted themselves with every single millimeter of each other’s body. It hadn’t been that long since they’d last been together but every day was one too many and the history of all of those days had to be discovered, the lines, wrinkles, bumps and bruises of life had to be seen and felt and catalogued until little by little they felt complete again. Stella backed Scully up into the cold shower wall and Scully shivered, welcoming the intensity of her feelings with open arms. She felt Stella’s palm cup her breast as the other pushed against the small of her back, holding her close with her fingers curled perfectly in the lines and curves of her spine. Holding Stella’s hair back with her hand she tried to direct Stella’s lips down but Stella smiled against her mouth, softly biting her lower lip before caressing it with her tongue. There was no rush. They had all the time they wanted. And so Dana allowed Stella to take her on a journey, one that brought her back to the early days of their relationship as Stella slowed down time around them. She remembered their first shower together. The first time she had joined Stella under the hot water after spending a day with her rediscovering the streets of the city that had brought them together was a time she yearned to relive, and Stella was slowly bringing her back to that moment. Scully remembered how Stella had waited for her, how she’d grasped her when she had asked and how Stella had allowed her to play her body like a piano, every touch a new note and every note forming a symphony that ended in a climax of beginnings, more beautiful than Scully had experienced ever before. She felt it all, mirrored in Stella’s soft and tender touches as she slowly became aware of Stella’s fingers traversing the planes of her midsection on their way to the apex of her thighs.

Scully spread her legs a little and granted Stella’s searching fingers access to where they were trying to go. Stella teased her, lightly running her fingers across Dana’s outer lips and inner thighs before trailing them to the sides of Dana’s ass and up her sides and back again. Dana surrendered to Stella’s touch and Stella felt her relax, any resistance slowly ebbing away as Scully leaned her head back against the shower wall. ‘Make love to me,’ Scully whispered softly as she broke away from their kisses, and Stella pressed her nose sweetly into Dana’s cheek in response. She thought about how, before Dana, she hadn’t believed in making love – she had sex. It was biology, not magic, and there was nothing unbelievable or inexplicable about it all. Ironically, she’d been proven wrong by a scientist, one with flaming red locks and deep blue ocean eyes but a scientist nonetheless – and she’d never been more happy and elated to be proven wrong. There was an element of magic to them, just them, and now that Stella no longer needed to be told where to look she saw it in every corner, heard it in every breath and her world was such a better place for it.

Dana felt the magic in Stella’s fingers melt into her body as Stella tenderly and lovingly explored her body and touched her soul. Stella slowly made love to her, playing with her feelings like a game of chess on the checkered wall behind her. She’d never really taken the time to truly love someone like she loved Dana and Stella took as much pleasure as she gave from loving Dana like this. She took her time, feeling Dana’s nipples react to the touch of her lips and her muscles ripple under the whisper of her thumb as it skimmed across the muscles of Dana’s abdomen. Goosebumps arose on Dana’s skin despite the heat of the shower and her body started a rhythm for Stella to follow. Stella knew she was done for when she felt Dana’s nails dig into the flesh of her shoulder and her teeth anchor themselves softly but desperately on her neck. She didn’t say anything, she just increased her pressure and kept Dana even closer as she listened to the song of Dana’s body as it reached its peak.

Scully wrapped herself around Stella, not wanting to let her go, but not feeling strong enough to move anything except her heart that leapt out of her chest to collide with Stella’s. She held Stella’s body close, feeling Stella’s heartbeat against her own as Stella’s hands caressed her back and arms and her lips softly dragged themselves along her cheek to finally land on Dana’s lips again. The water of the shower rained down on them, warming them and keeping them safe in a misty blanket. Dana exhaled shakily, pressing herself into Stella’s touch, her lips trembling with pent up emotion and exhaustion. ‘I love you so much,’ she whispered into Stella’s mouth, and Stella cradled the back of Dana’s head to kiss her deeply. Without words she expressed her feelings more eloquently than Dana ever thought she could and it finally broke her. A tear escaped the corner of her eye and ran down to touch Stella’s cheek, melting between their faces like worries on the wind but Stella, being Stella, felt everything and softly broke their kiss to move her lips to the wetness of tears and water on Dana’s cheek. ‘Don’t cry,’ she whispered, and Dana shook her head lightly, wet tresses of hair sticking to her face as she smiled through her tears. She tested her knees and found them strong enough to hold her up so she released Stella’s body to cup her face between her hands and press her lips to Stella’s one last time.

Stella sighed and grasped a washcloth, pouring some of their shower cream onto it before gently washing Dana’s body and then her own. Dana let Stella take care of her, touching her body here and there but letting Stella take the lead. After a few minutes Stella reached behind Dana to turn off the water and opening the door she reached for the big towels that were waiting for them. Dana accepted one and followed Stella out of the shower, content and warm, and she watched as Stella dried herself quickly and efficiently. She quickly brushed her teeth and got ready for bed, glancing at Dana every few minutes to make sure she was okay. Dana did the same and slipped on the pajamas she’d brought, soft, silky ones that were comfortable and cute at the same time. Stella wore a t-shirt and Scully smiled at the cute rainbow print on Stella’s pajama shorts. Stella winked at her and reached for her hand. Clasping their fingers together Dana let Stella lead her to the bed, where she quickly conquered her favored left side as Stella conceded and got in behind her.

As the evening grew quiet around them something they’d both been dreading to talk about slowly drifted to the surface. Scully felt Stella grow slightly uncomfortable behind her and she sighed deeply. ‘We have a wedding tomorrow,’ she whispered. ‘I know,’ Stella wondered. ‘Who would have thought, you and me, attending a wedding.’ Scully rolled onto her back, turning her chin towards Stella. She found Stella’s eyes slightly distant but warm and somehow it made her want to bare her soul to her.  ‘You know… I wanted to get married once,’ she admitted quietly. ‘Only once?’ Stella asked, no particular tone to her voice. ‘Hmm,’ Dana hummed, ‘With Mulder. I expected him to ask me for the longest time… But he never did.’ Stella blinked and looked away, directing her eyes to the hair floating around Dana’s face. ‘You could have asked him,’ she said. Scully pursed her lips. ‘I guess so.’ ‘But you didn’t want to,’ Stella guessed softly. ‘You were afraid of what your family might think. They didn’t approve of him. And even if they did, they’d want him to ask you. Not the other way around.’ ‘They’re not archaic, Scully defended weakly, ‘But yeah. I guess my faith had something to do with it. And later… I don’t know,’ she sighed deeply. ‘But I wanted to.’ Stella licked her lips and bravely met Dana’s eyes again, finding more confidence in them than anywhere in herself.

‘My father told me not to get married,’ she confessed softly, a raw tone to her voice. Scully tensed slightly, recognizing the vulnerability in Stella’s voice as something very precious and she knew instinctively how much every next word would cost Stella. ‘You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,’ she gave Stella an out, but she regretted it the moment she’d said it. Stella smiled with gratitude but pressed on. ‘He told me I’d be better off alone. I didn’t believe him at the time, I was young, a romantic, a girl waiting for her Prince Charming. But he was right, of course. Especially back then. I think to my father it was more of a business proposal rather than love, and he wanted to shield me from that mistake. Most marriages are like that. Either that, or they are based on somewhat of a fantasy, and neither seem particularly appealing to me.’ Scully stayed quiet and Stella’s words hung heavily in the air between them.

‘I loved him more than anything,’ Stella finally said. ‘He meant the world to me.’ Scully felt the truth of Stella’s words deeply and she lifted her hand to cover Stella’s. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she said, trying to blanket everything she wanted to say and cover it with those few words. ‘Don’t be, it’s in the past,’ Stella said as she looked at Dana’s thumb that was softly caressing the back of her hand. ‘And here we are,’ Scully smiled, ‘At your friends’ wedding. Together.’

‘There’s no one I’d rather share this with,’ Stella said, and she smiled through unshed tears as she brought Dana’s hand up to her lips to kiss her knuckles. ‘I’m so glad you agreed to come. I didn’t think you would.’ Scully cast one last look at Stella’s face before sighing contently and turning back around, fitting her body in the shape of Stella’s as she pulled Stella’s arm around her tummy. ‘I’ll sit through anything if it means spending time with you,’ she joked. ‘Seriously though, I felt so honored you’d even consider asking me. And so far it has been perfect,’ Scully whispered into the dark of the night. Behind her, Stella shifted even closer into the warm curve of Dana’s body. ‘You are perfect,’ she replied quietly, pressing her lips into the skin underneath Dana’s hair once more before closing her eyes and allowing herself to be taken away on the soundless wave of her and Dana’s dreams.

Chapter Text

Bring, bring, bring your flowered hat

 

Stella woke to the feeling of feathers dancing on her thighs. No, not feathers – they were fingers, light and careful, barely touching her skin and yet insistently waltzing their way up and down her shorts, grazing beneath the hem only to retreat in a rhythm that conducted the beating of Stella’s quickening heart.

She heard herself moan softly, her mind still hazy and far away with sleep, but her senses waking up to fully focus on Dana’s touch – Dana, she thought, my warm, pliant, soft Dana, where are you? She wasn’t spooned with Stella like they had fallen asleep and as Stella’s brain finally started working she felt Dana’s hair tickle her tummy where Dana had pushed up her T-shirt and was now breathing warm breaths across the skin of Stella’s exposed abdomen. ‘Shh,’ Dana hushed her, pushing a smile into Stella’s navel, ‘Go back to sleep.’ ‘That’s ridiculous,’ Stella muttered, and Scully pressed a kiss to her skin. ‘Then don’t,’ she whispered, and Stella chuckled in carefree abandon. She rolled fully onto her back, letting Dana touch her wherever she wanted, trying to relax and focus on the feelings that she had missed so dearly.

It was never the same without her. Stella had tried, attempted to recreate the careful, searching fingers Dana would use on her but she had failed and grown impatient and frustrated instead. She tried to imagine Dana when she wasn’t there, tried to conjure up memories of her, flesh memories that would recreate the feelings Dana could spark in her but the only thing it sparked was longing, loneliness and anger at that loneliness. It wasn’t the same without her. It would never be the same.

Happiness and desire caught fire deep within Stella’s soul and Scully felt it in the way Stella pushed into her, her stomach soft against her lips and her legs restless beneath Scully’s frame. Scully curled her fingers under the waistband of Stella’s shorts, slowly pushing them down to her knees. Stella shifted and pushed them down further, making them disappear somewhere between the endless clouds of cotton and down that covered their shared bed. She equally tensed and relaxed against Dana’s fingers and marveled at how easy her brain switched and allowed Dana to take over.

Dana made Stella’s entire body sing against her hands, then her lips as she tried to tell her her without words how much she had missed her and how deeply she truly loved her. Stella accepted everything, her eyes watering at the euphoria that flooded her system as Dana kissed her way back up to Stella’s lips after shattering her soul with a second orgasm. She met Dana’s eyes defiantly, openly, and Dana smiled sweetly, her cheeks flushed with their early morning activity. Stella graced her with a small smile. ‘What time is it?’ she managed hoarsely. Scully giggled and rolled onto her back next to Stella. ‘Really?’

We don’t want to be late,’ Stella rationalized, but the lazy smile in her voice gave her away. She pushed herself onto her stomach, touching her chin to Dana’s naked shoulder where the fabric had slipped to the side as she caught her breath. ‘What did you bring to wear?’

They hadn’t coordinated outfits specifically, just colors, and Stella was excited yet anxious to show Dana what she’d brought to wear. She’d gotten more than the okay from Mike and Thomas but somehow Dana’s opinion was the only one of any significance or consequence. ‘You’ll see,’ Dana evaded Stella’s question, equally nervous to show Stella and to see what Stella had chosen. She wasn’t as confident in her fashion choices as Stella was, but she was strangely enamored by the idea of their chosen colors. The dress code had been very open and it had given them a wide choice, and even though they knew it really did not matter what they wore they still both felt a need to look their best. For themselves. For each other.

Stella sighed and kissed Dana’s skin before pushing herself away to look at their bedside clock. ‘We have twenty minutes before my alarm goes off,’ Scully muttered, and Stella grinned as she turned back to scoot closer to Dana’s body. ‘Then I guess my question is how you’d want to spend those twenty minutes,’ she whispered into the crook of Dana’s neck as her lips started to caress their way down Dana’s throat.

When, exactly twenty minutes later, the alarm on Dana’s phone did go off Stella groaned from her position between Dana’s thighs. ‘Don’t you dare,’ Dana moaned deeply, and Stella smiled and kissed her intimately. ‘You get it, then,’ she hummed, and Dana squirmed beneath her. Reaching an arm out towards her phone Scully succeeded in silencing the alarm and with a loud thud the intrusive device ended up on the carpeted floor. ‘Stel, we have to get up,’ she whimpered. ‘Not until I make you come again,’ Stella said decisively as she entered Dana with two slick fingers. Scully closed her eyes and tangled her hands deep in Stella’s hair, holding her close as Stella’s mouth took its sweet time making love to her.

Scully’s orgasm approached with a deafening rumble, making Dana’s eyes roll closed and her body tremble as it grew bigger and bigger inside of her. Finally Stella quickened her pace and flicked her bundle of nerves like she knew Dana loved and a deep moan boiled up from inside Dana’s chest. Her body pushed itself further into the mattress, taking Stella with her, keeping her exactly where she needed her the most as Stella brought her to an earth-shattering climax with her lips around Dana’s clit and one of her hands firmly on Dana’s breast. ‘Fuck, I’ve missed you,’ Stella finally whispered as she brought Dana down. Dana pulled her up softly, keeping her hands in Stella’s scalp as she pulled her up towards her lips. She tasted herself in Stella’s kiss, not just on her lips but in the desperation and love that flooded them as Stella pushed helplessly into her. ‘I missed you too,’ Scully finally said, taking her hands to lie on Stella’s cheeks. ‘Let’s get ready. We have a wedding to attend.’

Their day would consist of breakfast at their houses before being expected to gather for pictures and the ceremony around noon. There would be lunch and dinner, and music, and somehow Scully was looking forward to the afterparty the most. By that point she knew she and Stella would be allowed to just sit down somewhere, observe, be together, and it’s all she wanted to do. But they had duties first, and she felt nervous energy run through her as she thought about everything that was about to happen. Not only would she attend a wedding of two almost-strangers, she’d be there with Stella. Their first official function as a couple. Their first official pictures as girlfriends. She wanted it, needed it even, but she also really hoped Stella felt the same. They hadn’t talked about it, and it didn’t have to be something big – but somehow it was. It didn’t loom over them like the dark thunderstorms they had already faced, but it was something different. Something more uncertain and even less predictable. Scully wasn’t sure if she should bring it up or not, and Stella wasn’t sure she wanted to even talk about it at all. Formality scared her with its confines. It restricted her and it threatened her with rules and regulations, expectations and a future she didn’t know she was ready for. Didn’t know she’d ever be ready for. But when Stella freed herself from Scully’s grasp and moved to step out of the bed, completely naked, she saw a flash of understanding and similar fears run through Dana’s eyes as she warily glanced past them. ‘We do have a wedding to attend,’ Stella repeated quietly, grabbing her bathrobe and tying it tightly around her body before heading towards the kitchen. ‘Get up, let’s have breakfast together.’

And just like that, without knowing or realizing it, Stella had moved them past the first hurdle of the day. Scully watched her leave with a sated smile around her lips before heading into the bathroom to quickly shower and join Stella for a cup of coffee in their kitchen.

Their hosts really had considered everything, and there was plenty of food to have a nice breakfast. Scully found Stella hard at work scrambling eggs and toasting some bread, and she watched wordlessly from her position in the doorway before finding a chair at their table. ‘No,’ Stella said without looking over her shoulder. ‘Bed.’ Scully frowned and pursed her lips, even though Stella could see nothing of her expression. ‘But...’

Don’t argue with me, back to bed, I’ll be there in a second,’ Stella said rather sternly as she looked over her shoulder. There was a twinkle in her eyes that Scully hadn’t seen before and was wise enough to accept instead of question. ‘Okay,’ Scully agreed as she stood and moved back through the door.

Scully had barely made the bed and settled against the pillows when Stella carried in a huge tray filled with two plates of breakfast and a steaming pot of coffee. She gingerly put it down and went back into the kitchen as Scully just looked at her and tried to commit this Stella to memory as much as she always tried with every new version of Stella she got to see. Stella smiled kindly, almost shyly at her as she poured a cup of coffee and handed it to Dana. ‘Here you go,’ she said pointlessly as she sat on the edge of the bed, one leg folded beneath her as the other dangled off the edge. She took a sip of her own coffee, burying her chin in her cup before looking silently at Dana.

In Dana’s eyes she found an ocean. Filled with questions and desires, fears and everything Stella hadn’t wanted to see but also everything she needed to know as floating on top of all of it was the unconditional and undeniable truth of what could only be described as ‘them’. Scully stayed silent and just grabbed her plate, eating the food Stella had made for her, enjoying the silence between them but also growing more and more wary of the inevitable descent down the mountain they were currently climbing together.

Stella knew she was strong enough to start the conversation they were darting around like angels around the sun. If they stayed too close for too long it would burn them – but it was an inevitability they both recognized. Might as well get it over with, Stella thought. ‘There will be pictures of us after today,’ she started quietly. ‘Do we need to tell Mike to keep them close to home?’ Scully smiled weakly. ‘Of course not. I’m not ashamed of us.’ Stella hummed. ‘But what does your faith think of us, Dana?’

A trembling sigh tore itself through Dana’s body, a combination of sadness and relief that mixed with a burning need to both bury it forever and talk about it until the end of time. Stella allowed her a moment to think, to form thoughts around the words that were already on Dana’s lips and in her eyes clearer than any sound she could ever make. A crease fought its way into the skin of Scully’s forehead and Stella raised a hand to it, brushing away the single lock of lava that had solidly carved its own path down along Dana’s face. Dana raised her eyes to look at Stella, to burn the truth behind everything she was about to say deep into her soul before Stella had a chance to deny its existence. Finally she spoke, her voice soft and tender but filled with an undercurrent of urgency Stella knew not to take lightly.

My family does not understand a lot of my choices. They never have. You’ll laugh at this but I’ve been called a rebel more often than you’d think.’ ‘I’m not laughing, Dana,’ Stella whispered. Scully smiled a sad smile that didn’t reach her eyes before she continued. ‘I don’t… My mom wouldn’t understand. I’d just hope she would accept it and trust me to make my own choices.’ Stella put a hand on Dana’s, carefully taking the shaking coffee cup from her. ‘You’re a grown woman. She knows that.’ Dana leaned her head to the side in defeat. ‘I’m also a Catholic. I’ve been using my faith at times when I needed it and now I’m afraid my family think I’ve turned my back on my beliefs and on them. I haven’t.’

I know,’ Stella said, trying to ignore the knife she felt stabbing at her heart at Dana’s words. ‘I wish I still had your faith. But only you can find a way to reconcile your beliefs and your feelings. They can coexist, they already are. You’ve already decided. You can’t control what your family will think, but if they care about you like I think they do then their God will agree with me that love is love, no matter where you find it.’

The air around them sang with the melody of Dana’s heart. There was fear there, insecurity, but also an incomparable amount of love that felt like it was ready to burst out of every pore in her body. It encompassed Stella, filled her with joy and confidence that today wouldn’t be awkward or confrontational at all. It would be fun, loving, and maybe even a bit educational – even though she’d be the last person to admit it.

They took their time getting ready, Stella applying make-up on the bed while Scully took the seat at the vanity. Occasionally their eyes met through Scully’s mirror, and it sent jolts of electricity every time they connected. Stella winked wickedly once, making Dana blush, and when after half an hour Stella walked past her to get dressed Dana caught her waist and pulled her down to kiss her softly before releasing her to let her disappear into the other room.

It didn’t take them long to finish dressing, and Scully’s anxiety grew as she waited for Stella to settle so she could show her the outfit she’d chosen. She hadn’t seen Stella yet, they’d carefully avoided each other in an unspoken agreement to make a little show out of the reveal. It matched the festivity and frivolity of their day and both of them liked pretending that this was normal, at least for a little while. Scully had bought a dress for the occasion – a cream colored dress, printed with delicate patterns and with beautifully crafted flowers embroidered on. In her hair she wore a headband, carefully wrapped in her curly updo, the whites, pinks and creams standing out like delicate stars in her auburn curls.

Ready?’ Scully asked, anxiously awaiting to show Stella her outfit. She didn’t see Stella raise her eyebrows and sigh, but she released a steadying breath before turning the corner, not waiting for Stella’s reply.

Scully’s plan backfired immensely the seconds she came into the room and laid eyes on Stella. ‘Stel...’ she said breathlessly.

Bloody hell, Dana...’ Stella’s response was equally incoherent. Scully stood frozen, her eyes glued on Stella, roaming her outfit from head to toe as she suddenly felt very underdressed. ‘This is…’ Stella motioned to Scully’s dress, ‘You look incredible.’ Scully shook her head, making the loose strands that framed her updo bounce lightly. ‘Stella. You look like a goddess. You’ll be the center of attention, you look so good.’ Stella waved the compliment away with a flick of her wrist. ‘I okayed this with the grooms. They wouldn’t let me outshine them, don’t you worry.’ ‘Are they going to show up in full gold riding unicorns? Because that’s the only thing I can think of honestly,’ Scully mumbled. ‘Stop it,’ Stella smiled, reaching to delicately touch her fingers to the pattern on Dana’s dress. ‘It’s just a suit.’

Just a suit, Scully thought. Just a two-piece, dusky pink, form-fitting suit jacket with pants that ended in a wide leg, framing her figure beautifully, solidifying Stella’s confidence into something tangible for her to step on and lift her above everyone else in beauty and power. The white blouse that peeked from underneath the jacket had been partially left unbuttoned, showing a bit of skin that drew Scully in even more, and she knew she was in big trouble if Stella were to sit next to her all day. Stella saw the expressions that crossed Dana’s face. ‘Oh come on,’ she smiled, ‘Dana, seriously.’ Dana looked up to meet Stella’s eyes and she shook her head lightly. ‘I don’t even know what to say. I feel so blessed that I’m the one you chose to accompany you, but I feel a little underdressed.’ ‘Stop that,’ Stella cautioned her, trying to look stern while also attempting to keep her eyes from fixating on the swell of Dana’s breasts that was left exposed by the deep V in Dana’s dress. ‘First of all, it’s not a competition, we shouldn’t treat it as such. Secondly, you look fucking amazing. That color, Dana… Stella shook her head lightly. ‘It matches what’s underneath,’ Dana teased, running her palms over the skirt of her dress to smooth out any non-existent wrinkles. ‘Jesus,’ Stella whispered and Dana raised an eyebrow. ‘Come on now, we’ve already upset the deities enough for one day. Let’s keep it civil.’ ‘Not if you’re going to be sitting next to me like that all day,’ Stella teased. ‘I was just thinking the same thing,’ Scully replied. ‘Let’s hope we have some time in between to… relax then,’ Stella winked before reaching out a hand to her. ‘May I take your hand?’

Scully sighed deeply, collecting herself before slipping into the stiletto heels she was still holding. She smoothed her hands over her legs and straightened her dress once more before locking her eyes on Stella. ‘It’ll be my honor,’ she said.

I love you,’ Stella said softly but truthfully and Dana watched her quietly as she stood unmoving, inviting Stella to come closer. Stella stepped in, her eyes studying Scully’s entire frame until they ended on the flowers in Dana’s hair. Scully watched how Stella’s lips curled up into a fragile and new kind of smile, a tender one, as Stella carefully touched her fingertips to the flowers that bloomed in the fire of Dana’s hair.

They allowed the moment to fill them, feeling blessed and lucky to finally have the time and place to let all of this encompass them. Scully was the first one to move, grasping Stella’s hand and interlacing their fingers. ‘Lead the way,’ she said, and Stella looked at the floor quickly collecting herself before sniffing and pointing her gaze towards the door. Scully didn’t miss the silvery glint of unshed tears in the corner of Stella’s eyes and she documented it carefully, in the corner of her brain that was designated: Things Stella doesn’t show anyone but me.

Chapter Text

Lift your open hand

Strike up the band, and make the fireflies dance

Stella’s palm in hers would become Scully’s tether to reality throughout the day. It would keep her grounded during their photo ops, as many eyes darted across hers and Stella’s outfits, confirming her suspicions that Stella would indeed be the center of attention apart from the grooms. She felt how people gravitated around Stella, like satellites in orbit around their sun. Scully felt infinitely grateful to be allowed close, and to not get burned – she knew Stella could burn, she’d felt it, but she’d also felt her scald with ice instead of fire and although she wasn’t sure which she disliked more she was happy to know that she didn’t have to be afraid of that happening. Stella was with her. She was with Stella.

So Scully grasped Stella’s hand again as they stepped in front of the camera, the photographer asking to take pictures of all the couples there. Stella smiled warmly at her and curled her arm around Scully’s waist, lower than usual, and Scully felt the weight of Stella’s gaze wash over her in a wave of confidence and reassurance. They looked at each other as they stepped onto the crosses drawn onto the floor, their positions, and Scully watched as Stella roamed her eyes across Scully’s face. Stella tightened her lips a little, causing the dent in her chin to crease in that familiar way and Scully squeezed her hand before directing her eyes at the photographer. He snapped a photo and another one, and as Scully glanced towards Stella to watch how beautiful she looked she realized Stella hadn’t looked away.

The photographer gave them some directions and snapped a few more times before releasing them with a smile. Stella smiled and nodded at him in acknowledgment before stepping off to the side and finding a quiet place. ‘That was fun,’ Scully said softly. ‘Hmm, it was,’ Stella agreed with a hushed voice and Scully felt the fingers on her spine put soft pressure on her. ‘Stella,’ she warned, hesitating slightly. The photographer might still be watching. Stella released her and a wave of something sad crossed her eyes as she held Dana’s for a few long seconds.

‘Oh fuck this,’ Scully muttered before pulling Stella close and kissing her, her teeth capturing Stella’s bottom lip. Stella moaned in surprise and pushed her fingers into Scully’s back, fighting nothing but herself for control for a few seconds before allowing Scully to decide what would happen. Scully felt Stella give up and respond sweetly, and she released a breath she’d been holding since the photography session started – If someone was still unsure of what they were, they sure as hell would know after seeing the pictures. But it was liberating and lightening, weight disappearing from their shoulders like birds jumping into the wind with the duration of their kiss. Stella’s lips felt warm under hers, soft and willing and as she broke the kiss she found Stella’s face open and brave, eyes shining with love.

‘Well well,’ Mike announced his presence behind them, ‘Thomas wasn’t lying when he said you two would be the talk of the day. You look incredible.’ Scully turned around to find Mike looking at her, not Stella. ‘Hi, thank you,’ she greeted him, ‘But I fear I’m not match for Stella.’ Mike grinned. ‘Didn’t she tell you? She helped us pick out our outfits, and we practically picked hers.’ Scully raised her brow at Stella. ‘Really?’ Stella nodded, smiling proudly at Mike’s crisp white suit with navy and gold detailing. ‘You look very handsome, Mike,’ she complimented him with a soft smile. Scully nodded her agreement, thinking maybe their friendship ran deeper than she knew. ‘So do you, Stel,’ Mike said as he ran the back of his hand over Stella’s sleeve. Stella straightened her back to carry the compliment and looked behind him. ‘Are you breaking another holy rule by letting that man of yours see you before the ceremony?’ Mike shook his head. ‘Actually no, I haven’t seen him today and I’m not going to until we’re supposed to. Gotta do some things by the book.’

‘Not too many though,’ Stella winked at him. ‘No, we’ll make sure of that,’ Mike agreed. ‘We’ll see you later. You’ll have the best seats in the house.’ Stella smiled at him. ‘I expect nothing less.’

With a cheeky smirk Mike left them, wandering off to greet other guests as people started to disperse. ‘Let’s walk a bit,’ Stella said to Scully, who put her hands in her dress pockets and followed Stella down the wood chipped path. They wandered along the property a bit, making their way down to the spot where the ceremony would take place later. There was a willow, of course, and a path lined with tiny flowers that seemed to be picked from Dana’s dainty flower crown. ‘This looks beautiful,’ Scully wondered, and Stella hummed in agreement. They sat down on a bench along the side, looking at the white chairs and the name tags. Mike hadn’t lied, they were seated in the front row, and Stella smiled inwardly – she knew she’d have to do a speech later on, the grooms had asked her and so she’d expected the priority seating. Still, it put a heavy focus on them as a couple and Stella wondered how Scully felt about it as she herself felt uncharacteristically light. She tried not to be unsettled by happiness and found that, not for the first time today, there was actually nothing at all she wanted to change about this moment.

‘So how well do you really know Mike and Thomas?’ Scully asked her. Stella sighed as she recounted all the times she’d realized how lucky she was to have them in her life. She’d known Mike for ages and she remembered everything about his relationship with Thomas, how she’d comforted him after a breakup, harbored him at her house for a few nights until Thomas had come knocking and asking for a retry. She remembered how Mike had cried on her kitchen floor the night Thomas had proposed, telling her he wasn’t sure he should accept. It had been the first time in her life she’d argued in favor of marriage – of course he should say yes, and she’d sent him off into the night with her blessing, and here they were – six months later. Six months in which she’d repeatedly pondered the issue, or rather construct, of marriage. Mike knew about Dana. He’d been the first person she’d told, in fact, aside from him and her best girl friend she hadn’t told anyone anything. So to be here, feeling okay and feeling like she belonged was a pretty big fucking deal, and she knew Scully must feel it as well. Stella licked her lips and finally responded. ‘We’ve been friends for a very long time. I’ve seen him go through a lot.’ Dana effortlessly read the silent sentence that should have come at the end of that – and he has seen me at my worst. 

 Scully shifted a little, her knee touching Stella’s thigh as she curiously waited for a story from Stella’s lips. It came in the form of slow, well-chosen words that made up important sentences. Dana watched as a shard of a broken smile crossed Stella’s face, a memory once crystalline and clear shattered against the iron wall of her past. ‘He’s probably the only one who knows my past like you do,’ she whispered. ‘I don’t tell him everything but he guesses. He’s good at guessing. He knows me. He’s always seen me and he’s one of the very few people that do. Mike always made me feel validated and he lifts me up. Men should all be like that.’

Scully smiled warmly at her. ‘That’s wonderful,’ she said softly. ‘I had no idea.’ Stella returned the smile. ‘I gathered this weekend would be fairly self-explanatory. I don’t keep many good friends as you know so...’ she shrugged. ‘I know,’ Dana replied. ‘He seems like a good person and a great friend.’ Stella allowed her mind to wander back to when she’d first met Mike, years and years ago after a conference not unlike the one she’d first seen Dana at. ‘I tried to pick him up the first time I saw him,’ she grinned, feeling brave enough to admit her own ignorance. ‘He wasn’t out then.’ Scully chuckled. ‘Did he… accept your advances?’ Stella shook her head, covering her face with her hands in mock embarrassment. ‘He told me he’d much rather talk,’ she said, exaggerating her last word. ‘I don’t know why I agreed, it’s very unlike me. We talked for hours before I went home alone.’ Scully shook her head lightly. Stella scoffed. ‘Two weeks later we’d added hours of talking to our relationship and he came out as gay. We finished school together, we moved back to London a few years apart but always stayed in touch.  He’s always been a source of comfort when I needed it, if I asked for it.’

Dana grabbed Stella’s hand and slid her thumb across Stella’s knuckles. ‘I’m glad to know him,’ she said. Stella nodded. ‘I’m so grateful you two get along and you can share this with me. It’s very important to Mike.’ Scully raised her chin, reading between Stella’s careful lines and finding her choice of words interesting enough to warrant a little teasing. ‘Well, tell Mike I’m very happy I was asked to tag along as your plus one and I’m very grateful for his friendship as well.’ Stella smiled knowingly. ‘You can tell him yourself, later.’

They had lunch and soon the ceremony was about to begin. Everyone took their seats and Stella led Dana to her chair, holding her hand high and only releasing her as she felt Dana’s finger slip away as distance separated them. Scully smoothed her skirt and shook out her hair, having taken it down after lunch in favor of a headache free day. There was one flower left in her hair, tucked close to her ear with a bobby pin, and Stella had taken it upon herself to adjust it even when adjusting it was wholly unnecessary. She did so now, as she sat down, touching her fingers to the small pink flower in Dana’s red tresses. Scully licked her lips subconsciously and Stella pecked them quickly before sitting down next to her. In her right pocket was a speech, and somehow she felt as nervous as the grooms must feel – happy, but nervous, and excited, but tense. Scully picked up on her mood and stopped Stella’s hands from fidgeting by pushing one of her own in between, clasping her fingers through Stella’s and squeezing lightly.

The next hour their hearts were filled with wonder and joy as the day unfolded its magic upon them. Mike and Thomas looked every bit as charming and handsome as Scully had hoped, dazzling everyone with their stellar outfits, tailored suits and bright colors and even some sparkles on Thomas’ shoes. They looked like a modern-day fairytale – nervous, handsome, and as deeply in love as two humans can be. Stella felt a tear defiantly run down her cheek as she heard them laugh at each other quietly. Scully’s hand stayed in hers, always, firmly rooted in its place on Stella’s thigh until finally she had to let it go as she was asked up on the stage. Scully looked at her in disbelief, surprised and wholly in the dark on this part of the ceremony. Stella shot her a wink before straightening her jacket. She touched the speech in her pocket before deciding to leave it in – she knew what she needed to say.

Taking her place in front of the crowd she let her eyes wander from face to face before lingering on Scully a second too long. Scully blushed, Stella smiled and directed her eyes to Mike, who had a proud, loving look in his eyes.

‘Today, we celebrate bravery, and love,’ Stella started, her voice soft and firm. ‘I have known Mike for many years. We were children, and it has been my privilege to see how Thomas cherishes every single thing about Mike that I have come to know and love.’ Stella looked at Thomas to see him purse his lips a little to try and keep from crying. She let her eyes wander back to Dana’s, needing the confidence, the reassurance she knew she’d get from her presence alone. ‘Mike came to me after Thomas proposed. Me, of all people…’ her voice trailed off and she shook her head lightly in spite of herself. ‘That alone should be an indication of how messed up in the head he was…’ People laughed and Scully shook her head at Stella, catching the wink Stella shot at her. ‘As many of you know I don’t do marriage. But even though Mike came to me for my advice… I think it’s him, him and Thomas both, that have reinstated my trust in love and my faith in humanity. The work we do… It’s grueling, harsh and cruel and it takes a special person to be able to withstand that.’

Scully felt a shiver run down her spine at Stella’s words. She wished she could be there for Stella every day she came home from work. She wished Stella was there for her every day, after the good and after the bad, so that they would never have to be alone again – did Stella want that too? Was that the message that she was trying to communicate here, disguised as a speech, a blessing, not for Mike and Thomas but for them? Scully refocused her gaze on Stella’s face, tracing every micro-expression that crossed her face, and she just watched how Stella paid homage to her best friend and his soon to be husband and to the love that bound them, but also to the truth that lived in Stella’s heart now. The truth of them. Of whatever it was that defined them, that formed them and that kept them together however unlikely that may be.

As if Stella read her mind, she sighed deeply and swallowed before starting her last sentence, eyes glued to Mikes. ‘No matter how unlikely you two might think you are as a couple, I think I speak for all of us when I say – You belong together. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.’ Dana knew there must be a story behind this. Stella would tell her later. For now, she didn’t miss the tremble of Stella’s chin, the way the muscle beneath her cheekbone shivered with the desire to be kissed to rest, and she didn’t miss the way Mike wiped a tear from Stella’s cheek as they hugged. Stella smiled a dazzling smile at the grooms before returning back to her seat beside Dana, quietly folding one leg over the other as she expertly avoided Dana’s eyes. Soon the corner of her mouth curved into a smile, the muscles lifted by the lightness in Dana’s love, and without looking at her Stella let her fingers slide across Scully’s leg to find her open hand and connect them again. A tether to reality. Because for once, Stella’s reality was something she wanted desperately to hang on to.

The ceremony was mostly a blur to both of them, Scully being too caught up in Stella’s tender touch of her hand and Stella thinking about how and where she could take Dana later. She felt vulnerable and needed a dose of reassurance she knew Dana would be happy to provide – they knew each other well enough by now to know what the other needed and Dana’s breathing next to her told Stella that something was brewing deep within Dana’s heart as well. As the grooms kissed and the photographer snapped, Stella tightened her hand around Dana’s. ‘Let’s go back to the cabin after the ceremony,’ she whispered. ‘I’m sure we have time.’ Dana allowed her eyes to search Stella’s face for a few seconds before nodding. ‘I’d like that.’

They followed the group back towards the lake, where tables and lights and white banners made up an idyllic scene that Stella found mildly annoying, but the way Dana fit right in to the scene made it all right. They made their way towards the happy couple, congratulating them, and soon Thomas sighed and put his hand on Stella’s elbow. ‘All right, piss off you two, you’ve got an hour before we cut the cake.’ Scully blushed and Stella looked her up and down with a raised chin. ‘Come on, don’t tell me you thought you weren’t being obvious,’ Mike teased. Scully stammered. ‘I… eh…’ ‘Oh bless you,’ Mike chuckled before mockingly pushing Stella away. ‘Go on. I’ll see you later.’

Stella raised an eyebrow at Dana before setting off towards the cabins. ‘One hour!’ Mike called after them. ‘Fifty minutes,’ Stella called back and shot a look at Dana, who followed her with an embarrassed smile on her face. ‘Stel,’ she scolded lightly, but Stella just laughed. The sound was so cheerful and free that Dana couldn’t help but giggle and follow her girlfriend back to their place.

As soon as Stella was through the door her mind registered Dana behind her, coming up to push her into the wall next to the wooden doorframe. The small table to their right rattled with their force as Stella’s hands wound themselves around Dana’s back. Dana sighed deeply, finding Stella’s racing pulse point with her lips as she pushed her roughly but tenderly into the exposed brick. Stella moaned softly as she let her eyes flutter closed – she’d been waiting to do this to Dana, not the other way around, but they had time – fifty minutes was more than enough to have her way with this woman who was currently pushing her jacket off her shoulders. ‘Careful,’ Stella managed, and Dana responded by grazing the skin on Stella’s jawline with her teeth. ‘Always,’ she heard, and the jacket fell away quietly with her worries. ‘Take off your blouse,’ Scully murmured into the curve of Stella’s neck, lips finding the skin behind her ear and then her earlobe. ‘You do it,’ Stella pushed her breasts into Dana’s as her hands busied themselves with pushing Dana’s hair back to hold her close. Scully sighed and Stella smiled to herself as she felt Dana’s fingers start to unbutton her top. ‘You know, you don’t have to listen to me,’ she teased. ‘I’m quicker anyway,’ Scully whispered as she released Stella’s earlobe and leaned back a little to catch her eyes. ‘We’ll see about that,’ Stella’s eyes sparkled and Scully giggled.

Dana’s thigh between hers trapped Stella to the wall and she sighed in frustration as she felt the heat rise in her bones with nowhere to go. She decided to take matters into her own hands and grabbed the edge of Dana’s skirt, pushing it up, gliding her hands over Dana’s impossibly smooth legs. The fabric went willingly and Stella leaned in to plant a kiss to Dana’s cleavage, pushing Dana’s searching lips to land in her hair. The warmth of Dana’s breath tickled Stella’s scalp and she shivered with the intimacy. She felt Dana pull the tails of her blouse from her pants and hummed, mildly impressed by Dana’s efficiency. Dana leaned back a little, looking at Stella as she licked her lips. ‘Told you.’ Stella just huffed quietly and watched, challenging Dana to lead, wanting her to finish what she started more than anything else. Scully recognized the challenge for what it was and pushed Stella’s blouse down her arms, tugging the sleeves from her wrists before allowing her fingers to trace across Stella’s thin bra. ‘Fuck, Stella, you didn’t tell me you were barely wearing anything underneath,’ she whispered in awe. The bra was lacy and delicate, more an underwire with some fabric attached than anything else, and Stella’s nipples were rubbing delicately against the soft flowers. ‘I have to maintain some form of mystery,’ Stella feigned seriousness. ‘I’ve got to keep you interested somehow.’ Scully surprised her by laving her hot tongue across Stella’s nipple through the fabric, eliciting a deep moan from Stella as Stella’s hands caught Dana’s hair. ‘Sshh,’ Scully hushed, ‘Someone might hear.’ Stella ignored her and continued her vocal admiration of Scully’s attention as Scully pushed the fabric down and finally connected her mouth to Stella’s bare breast. She licked and sucked, feeling the softness of Stella’s skin against hers, wanting to feel more, always more, but Stella’s pants were in the way of her searching hands. She struggled with the button for a few seconds before giving up and pushing her hand inside, and she felt Stella’s knees almost buckle at her desperation. ‘I need you,’ Scully groaned into the curve between Stella’s breasts, her tongue wet against Stella’s breastbone. She could feel Stella’s heartbeat, steady and loud, and she was sure it matched her own.

Stella’s hands roamed Dana’s body, wanting to take her time admiring it, kissing it, but knowing they were on the clock she settled for touching everywhere and everything she could. Scully felt hot beneath her palms, soft, pliant but determined to make love to her instead of the other way around and Stella loved it. She let her head fall back against the wall with a thud and noted how Dana didn’t slow down, but only sped up at the sound. Dana’s fingers found their way into Stella’s delicate underwear and she pushed her hips up, trying to guide Dana even though she knew she couldn’t. ‘I know,’ Dana whispered into the skin of Stella’s chest, and she felt the truth thrum down into her soul – She did know. There was nothing, really nothing she didn’t know.

Scully wrapped her fingers around Stella’s pubic bone, searching, taking up a rhythm as soon as she felt Stella’s warmth around her. She needed to kiss her, she hadn’t kissed her yet and quickly decided to amend that by trailing her tongue up to Stella’s mouth. ‘This is so naughty,’ she whispered into Stella’s parted lips before she captured them, wildly, passionately and matched in every move by her girlfriend who was slowly coming apart in her arms.

Stella felt Dana’s fingers right where they needed to be. She softly thrust up into Dana’s touch, creating a heat around them that Stella had been yearning for since this morning, and as Scully’s words filled her ears she lost herself to the perfection that encompassed both of them. ‘Keep going,’ she whispered into Dana’s mouth as she kissed her back, her fingers digging into the fabric of Dana’s dress, her legs spread a little and her slightly bent knees shaking with the strain of holding up her weight while still wearing her heels. Scully smiled sweetly at the way Stella was struggling, the tension in her body rising as Dana built her higher and higher. She felt the muscles of Stella’s inner thighs tremble against the straining fabric of her pants and a thought shot through Dana – I hope I don’t rip them. Imagine me ripping Stella’s pants.

Stella slowly gave herself over to Scully’s touch, her hands on her skin, her fingers massaging her clit faster and faster while her mouth devoured Stella’s lips, their bodies communicating their needs more clearly than any words ever could. Soon Stella felt her climax rise in her toes, warm her heart and finally roar to the surface as every connection to Dana’s skin culminated in a wave of fireflies, hot and burning and beautiful as they rose up from Stella’s soul. ‘Close,’ she muttered, and Dana pushed herself further into Stella’s body because somehow she knew that’s what she meant. A quiet chant rose from Stella’s mouth as Scully felt her hands clutch at her back, her thighs tense and warmth and wetness spread through both of them as Stella’s orgasm consumed them both. ‘That’s it,’ Scully whispered to Stella, whose head had fallen back against the wall in utter abandon. ‘Yes, baby.’

She watched how a frown appeared on Stella’s forehead at the pet name, but it quickly abandoned its terrain as it knew better than to challenge the love Stella felt deep within her. ‘No one…. No one calls me that,’ she managed, and Scully chuckled against Stella’s slightly sweaty neck as Stella tried to straighten herself up, her legs protesting against any movement.  ‘Do you mind if I do?’ Scully asked softly, brushing a strand of stray hair back from Stella’s face. Stella looked at her, her blue eyes hazy but clear, the soaring ice Scully knew so well burning truth into the parchment around Dana’s heart. ‘No,’ she said.

Chapter Text

 

Baby.

Someone calls me baby now, Stella thought. Dana called me baby.

She had never liked it, never had allowed it even. But right now, there was nothing, not a single cell in her body that had the audacity to protest – If there was one person on this planet who’d be allowed to call her that, it’d be Dana. Stella found it incredibly humbling, honoring even that she’d use that term, such an intimate, sweet word that Stella herself had rarely attributed to herself or thought herself capable of being – she wasn’t anyone’s baby. She was their mistress, their lover, their vamp or siren. Not their baby.

But even though she felt an unfamiliarity rush through her brain at the sound of the word there was no disconnect. It wasn’t an alien phrase, she didn’t feel disassociated from the sound of it. It felt right. No one had ever dared, she realized, and of course Dana would be the one to take that unexpected leap of faith, one of which Scully probably didn’t fully realize the weight, but she read it in Stella’s response and Stella loved her a little bit more every time something like this happened. ‘Come here,’ she said softly after she’d shuffled her clothes back into place. She pushed Dana over to the couch and straddled her, kicking off her heels, and as she kissed her slowly she tried to put all of her thoughts, every single thing she felt into the way she kissed her girl. She lavished Dana’s mouth, taking her time, smiling at the rightness and response she felt from Scully. Scully moaned softly, cradling Stella’s face with her fingers, holding her close and responding to her deeply emotional kiss. Stella let her hand wander to Dana’s breast, squeezing it softly through the fabric of the dress. As she tried to find a zipper Dana’s hand stopped her. ‘Later,’ Scully whispered to her. ‘No, now,’ Stella urged, but Dana broke the kiss and shook her head lightly. ‘No time.’ Stella frowned in frustration but  changed gears, abandoning the search for the lock that kept her from touching Dana’s bare sides, ribs, breasts, but instead headed down to pull her skirt up once more. ‘I’ll be fast,’ Stella smiled as she saw the realization dawn in Scully’s eyes.

Scully surrendered. She wanted this more than Stella probably knew, she needed it, and to have to wait until later would have been torture but she’d decided earlier that this was for Stella. She hadn’t, however, taken into account Stella’s tenacity and her stubborn nature that had her pushing Dana’s skirt up to disappear under it, into the dark where she felt light, searching with her tongue for that which she knew was hidden there. Scully moaned loudly as she felt Stella’s tongue tease the insides of her thighs. She was partially hidden in the creamy fabric that made up Dana’s dress, a few blonde locks visible between Dana’s bare legs and Dana felt heat rise on her cheeks at the erotic sight before her. ‘Stella,’ she moaned, and Stella pulled her legs closer, inching Dana down the couch a bit. Her hair fell onto her face, and Dana blushed at the thought of how thoroughly fucked they’d both look once Stella was done.

It didn’t take Stella long to have Scully cry out in abandon as Stella’s tongue swirled across her pussy, rhythmically massaging her clit in just the right way, using her other hand to squeeze Dana’s hip closer. She mumbled something from between Dana’s thighs but Scully didn’t recognize the words, just heard the sounds and the sweetness that poured from a place deep inside Stella. It made her heart flutter and her insides tremble, and the peak that had been within reach already just hurled itself towards her as Stella pushed Scully’s body over the edge and into a quick but intense orgasm. Stella moaned as she felt it happen, mumbling her love for Dana into the safety of the darkness surrounding her. She said the words over and over again, a bit louder each time until she found the strength to push herself up from under Dana’s skirt, find her face, kiss her still dazed and unresponsive lips and utter the words straight into Dana’s soul. ‘I love you, so much.’

They were only a few minutes late getting back to the party.

Stella reached out and brushed a stray lock of Scully’s hair down just as Mike approached them with open arms. ‘You’re lucky we’re never on time anyway,’ he joked, and Stella just raised an eyebrow at him and then pretended to ignore him as they passed him. Scully shrugged and looked around to find a glass of champagne as Mike grinned to himself and rejoined his husband to cut the cake.

It was beautiful, both men holding hands as they cut a huge cake with colorful chocolaty details into pieces for everyone. Thomas jokingly handed Stella a huge piece with two forks, not caring that they were the only couple he did this to, and Stella caught Mike’s eye as he checked in with her if she wasn’t uncomfortable with the joke. Stella winked at him and walked off to find a place to settle with Dana, finding a picnic table with a few coworkers she knew well. She scooped a piece for herself as Dana introduced herself to the table, smiling proudly as Dana called herself ‘Stella’s partner’, knowing her coworkers would understand the connotation of that word better if she’d show them. So when Dana sat down again Stella cut off another piece of cake and held it out for Dana, who looked at her questioningly for a second before biting her lip and reaching out to take the cake off of Stella’s fork. ‘Thank you,’ she said softly as she swallowed, ‘that’s really good.’ Stella nodded slowly as her tongue played along the inside of her teeth. ‘It is,’ she agreed, and started a casual conversation about work with the table. Dana laughed inwardly and accepted Stella’s openness as she was willing to give it.

After the cake they had an afternoon to themselves, chatting to the guests and to the grooms before heading off for a long walk across the property to get some air. They chatted about everything and nothing, about friendships, the fact that neither of them had many really close friends but that that was a blessing more than a curse and Dana carefully professed Stella was probably the best friend she’d ever had. Stella huffed defensively at the idea, thinking she couldn’t possibly be, that somewhere deep down she was still too closed off and too defensive to really be her lover’s best friend but somehow she also knew it to be true. She ‘And I’m happy to say you are mine,’ she whispered back, smiling a small smile into the open air in front of them as she kept her eyes straight ahead looking off into the distance. ‘It’s a good thing, Stella,’ Scully reminded her carefully as she stuck her hands in her dress pockets again. Walking along the slightly soft wood chipped path without stumbling was hard in her heels but she managed all right, and as long as Stella didn’t reach out for her she was determined to keep their distance as she understood it to be something Stella needed from her. So she maintained her balance on her own, straightening her back and keeping her hands on her thighs through the dress even though she wanted to hook her arm through Stella and show her that together, life would be easier. If Stella wasn’t ready and she pushed too far they’d have a falling out like the one they had in their first few days together and when Stella had pulled away with Mulder there. Scully remembered in great detail how she’d felt and she remembered even better the times that had followed where they’d come close, Scully trying to push Stella to relax into this new thing that was them, and feeling she was pushing Stella away more than she was pushing Stella towards her. Scully knew the signs by now. She read them well and she accepted her boundaries, knowing Stella would come to her again – physically, emotionally, whichever way felt best and safest – but she would come.

After walking in silence for a while Stella motioned for Dana to follow her and lead her off towards the houses again. ‘I’m going to change and disappear for a bit,’ she said, and Scully frowned. ‘Are you okay?’ Stella nodded. ‘Yes, nothing like that, I just have some business to attend to,’ she said and Scully believed her even though she felt uneasy at the thought of Stella being alone in this environment that made both of them uncomfortable if it weren’t for the other’s presence. ‘Talk to me if you need to,’ Scully said in an attempt to ensure Stella was indeed okay. Stella smiled at her and raised her chin. ‘There’s nothing going on, really. You can join me in the cabin and I’ll only be gone for an hour or so, I’ll miss dinner though.’ Scully raised her hand carefully, showing Stella to lead the way, but Stella smiled at her and grasped her fingers tightly between her own. ‘I’m fine, you’ll see,’ she said and Scully felt something stir within. ‘What does that even mean?’ Stella shrugged. ‘I need an hour. Save me a seat when the speeches start.’ Scully followed Stella as she headed to their house. ‘So you’re missing dinner? Should I tell Mike?’ Stella shook her head lightly. ‘I should have told you before, I’m sorry. He knows. I’ll be fed, don’t worry.’ Scully pursed her lips and decided to voice her concerns before Stella left her. ‘Stel...’ She stopped and Stella was tugged back towards her as her momentum reached the end of her arm. Stella turned and stood in front of her, her eyes glistening and open. Scully took a second to look, really look, and even though she saw some hesitancy she didn’t see fear or anger. Slowly though Stella’s eyes started to distance themselves, her heart suddenly chilly and slightly wary of Dana’s next words. ‘What?’ she said, a little bit stronger than she’d intended.

Dana sighed. ‘I wish I could stop worrying about what you think this means for our relationship,’ she admitted openly. ‘I’m walking with you and just keep thinking: What if this is too intimate? Too close? I pushed a boundary already and I didn’t mean to but I couldn’t help it and I--’ She trailed off as her hands waved the air in a hopeless gesture. ‘Dana...’ Stella started, grabbing both of Dana’s hands and holding them between their bodies. She grasped Dana’s fingers in one hand and reached the other up to Dana’s ear to readjust the single flower that still remained there, slightly battered but brave. She dropped her hand to her side when the flower was neatly back in its place. ‘I’ll admit it’s not easy,’ Stella continued. ‘I try not to think too much about it. It’s what we feel that’s important. There’s no value in what others think of us. But I find myself hoping they know your meaning in my life. That.. They know the importance of you. That you’re not some random date.’ Scully smiled sweetly and squeezed Stella’s five fingers with her ten before releasing her and heading in front of Stella towards their door. ‘I hope you don’t take random dates to weddings,’ she threw back. ‘Stella, honestly, I don’t care what others think. I just don’t want to veer into anything that’ll hurt us. This is new to me.’ Stella followed her, searching for their key and opening their door when Scully stepped aside. ‘It’s new to me as well,’ she said softly and closed the door behind them as Dana stepped inside and kicked off her heels. ‘Look,’ Dana said as she turned towards Stella and leaned on the back of the couch. ‘I don’t think anyone’s unclear as to whether you’re just fucking me or not. And if they do think that, then I’d still count myself lucky, all right?’ Stella stepped in to kiss Dana quickly on her lips before heading to the kitchen for a glass of water.

Scully followed her. ‘So… I’m not going to get a chance to take off your suit tonight?’ she asked teasingly. Stella stopped and turned. ‘Hmm.’ She seemed to think for a second and Dana took the opportunity to trail the back of a finger down Stella’s sleeve. ‘I promise you it’ll be fun,’ she tried to tease. Stella smirked at her. ‘I bet. Come on, I want to show you something.’ She led Dana to their bedroom where Stella’s suitcase held a few more items packed neatly in bags. Stella mentioned for Dana to sit down on the bed and Dana complied quietly, watching her partner move around the bed towards her suitcase.

Stella locked eyes with Dana as she took off her suit jacket and tossed it on the bed. Her blouse was unbuttoned slowly but efficiently, and as it fell open Dana stole a glance at the soft fabric covering Stella’s breasts. Stella opened the button and zipper on her pants and pushed them down her legs, somehow easily escaping them with her heels still on. Standing in front of Dana, who was sitting  barefoot on her bed innocently dressed in a cream dress, Stella felt powerful and sexy. But she wasn’t here to seduce Dana, although she enjoyed the blush that slowly crept up on Dana’s cheeks. Stella looked through her suitcase until she found the right bag, zipped it open and carefully freed the hanger to hold it up for Dana next to her body. She turned around towards the mirror, examining herself, running her free hand through her hair to create some volume. ‘What do you think?’

Dana whistled softly. ‘I… I think you should wear that so I can take it off tonight.’ ‘That’s the plan,’ Stella grinned as she ran her hand over the slightly velvety planes of the deep red suit she was holding. She’d owned it for a while but never got to wear it – She wore the jacket sometimes, the pants had gotten a few outings, but she’d never worn the full outfit. Until today.

‘What will you wear underneath?’ Dana asked softly as she tried to compose herself at the thoughts running through her. ‘What about…’

‘Nothing,’ Stella interrupted her dryly. ‘I’ll wear my bra, that’s it.’

Dana pursed her lips in silence as the air sparkled between them before Stella broke eye contact and left her to her thoughts, heading into the bathroom. ‘Wanna join me?’

Scully sighed longingly, desire evident in her voice. ‘We’ll take too long. I’ll leave you to it. If you promise you’re really okay, really just attending some business and really not pulling away. If you need space tell me.’ Stella came back into their bedroom barefoot and tugged on Dana’s wrist to ask her to step closer before softly and studiously running her hands up Dana’s sides and along her back. Stella pulled her close, hugging Dana close to her, feeling the heat between their bodies rise. ‘This is how much space I need,’ she whispered into Dana’s hair before placing a kiss there.

Dana pulled back, a tear threatening to tip over the edge of her lash line as she looked into Stella’s beautiful face. ‘Okay. Go shower and do your thing. I’ll save you a seat,’ she said before reluctantly releasing Stella. She felt the separation like physical pain and swallowed as she felt her insides protest against spending time apart when the time they had together was so scarce already. ‘I’ll see you soon,’ Stella promised as if she’d read Dana’s mind, and Scully nodded as she shrugged off the feeling. ‘I’m fine,’ she said and straightened her dress. ‘See you.’ She turned around and found her shoes before checking herself in the mirror and leaving Stella to do her business.

Stella took a minute after Dana had left to examine herself in the mirror. Was she okay? Something inside of her was afraid to look in the mirror, but she forced herself to meet her eyes – the woman who was here, attending a wedding with her girlfriend. She saw a pretty woman. A confident one. And a flawed one – a woman with too big of a heart, too much life already lived for her to accept happiness. Happiness wasn’t hers, it never had been, so when she encountered it she was wary and wary is how she felt now. Even though Dana was perfect, the wedding was perfect, she felt perfect – perfect was scary and she found herself looking for her flaws more now than ever.

 Her mascara was slightly smudged under her lower lash line, and a small stain of Dana’s lipstick was visible along the line of her blouse. She combed her fingers through her hair and found a few knots – little things that gave her control. She quickly shed her clothes and stepped into the shower as she didn’t have much time before she needed to be back. Switching her mind off was harder than she wanted it to be and one thing kept coming back into her brain over and over again - Dana never questioned her.

She hadn’t asked what Stella was up to. She hadn’t inquired as to what this business of Stella’s was. It was a surprise, one for the grooms as well as for Dana and Stella was glad Dana hadn’t pushed for an answer or gotten mad but still she wondered. How had she ever come this far that Dana would trust her implicitly? Should she? Was Stella worthy of that trust?

Yes, she answered her own question. Because it’s justified. You’ll surprise her and she’ll know. You’ll look at her, into her beautiful loving eyes that have lived and seen so much as well, and you’ll show her she was right. She was always right.

Chapter Text

Lead me out on the moonlit floor

Scully didn’t mind being on her own for a bit. She missed Stella as soon as she’d left her, of course, but she’d found Stella’s coworkers to be welcoming and nice people with whom she could easily chat about work and they had yet to mention her relationship to Stella, and Scully felt confident they wouldn’t because it didn’t matter. This was not their wedding, after all. They were just two people, and even though this was a big deal to them personally no one around them knew that or had anything to do with that. So she headed back towards the group, found a spot at the dinner table and wondered what Stella would eat as she enjoyed various dishes from the buffet.

Halfway through dinner Scully saw Mike approaching her. She smiled at him and he smiled back, put his hand on the back of her chair and leaned in. ‘So, Dana, did Stella tell you what she’s up to?’

Dana grinned. ‘No, actually I’m as in the dark as you are. I have no idea. She said she had business to attend to... Why, you don’t know?’ Mike shook his head. ‘I know Thomas does but he won’t tell me anything. I’m surprised she didn’t tell you. Or are you just a really good liar?’ Dana shook her head, laughing. ‘No, I honestly don’t know. She didn’t even tell me she would miss dinner until just before.’  Mike hummed and sat down on the now empty chair next to her. ‘I hope she’s back before speeches start, I’d hate for her to miss her time to talk. Dana raised her eyebrows. ‘She told me to save her a seat and she has an outfit, so I think she’ll be back. It’s probably work.’ Mike chuckled. ‘She’s always working. I wish she’d stop that. There was a while when I thought she’d not come to the wedding and use work as an excuse.’ ‘But she didn’t,’ Dana said with a smile. ‘No,’ Mike returned Dana’s grin. ‘You know the first thing she did when we invited her was ask me if she could bring you? And then she second-guessed herself, telling me she wasn’t going to come, and I had to convince her and the only way she’d come was with you.’ Dana looked down as she thought about the texts she and Stella had exchanged over the subject. ‘I know she was hesitant to go,’ she admitted. ‘She doesn’t like weddings.’ Mike sighed. ‘I know, it’s usually not her style. But she’s changing, and I think we have you to thank for that.’ Scully huffed and looked at Mike. ‘No, that’s all Stella.’ Mike cocked his head to the side. ‘Don’t underestimate yourself, Dana. I hear you’re quite the force. She loves you, she really does.’ Scully pursed her lips at this man she didn’t really know. She trusted him, trusted his words because Stella had given her every reason to, but it was strange to talk to someone who knew the intimate details of her relationship with Stella. She didn’t respond to him, because no words formed in her brain. She just rested her eyes on his kind gaze for a few moments before returning her spoon to her dessert. ‘She loves you,’ Mike repeated as if he knew she was trying to accept what he was saying. ‘She loves you too,’ she whispered to Mike, just to say something. ‘I know,’ Mike smiled. ‘And even though this’ll sound very selfish... Stella rarely loves, Dana. When she does it’s sure to be a very special person.’ Dana nodded as a truth suddenly boiled to the surface. ‘I think… She might be the one,’ she said softly.

Mike touched her hand. ‘Don’t tell her I told you this,’ he started. Dana’s eyes snapped to his and in them she found nothing but warmth and truth. Mike smiled gently at her. ‘I swear to God she’ll kill me if she finds out I told you this, and I’ll let her, too. But she told me the same. She told me she thinks you might be the one for her.’

Dana blinked. ‘Stella doesn’t believe that,’ she managed, but somewhere inside she knew that wasn’t true. Mike squinted at her. ‘Believe that if you must,’ he said, waving his hand flamboyantly at her, ‘but my Stella is in love with you my dear. Embrace it.’ Dana laughed with him. ‘All right. Thank you for telling me. Now if she’d only hurry back, I miss her.’ Mike threw his hands in the air. ‘Go on, change the subject,’ he said ironically. ‘I know you heard me and I know you know I’m right. Anyway, I’m off to find a microphone and start calling some people on stage so they can all gush about how much they love us. Your girlfriend better get back because she needs to validate my life choices for me.’ Dana smirked. ‘I’ll tell her.’ Mike nodded and stood, squeezing Dana’s shoulder softly as he walked off.

Dazed, Scully sat in her chair for a minute just thinking about the conversation that had just happened. It should put more pressure on her shoulders, but it didn’t. She felt happy and light, and she missed Stella next to her because she wanted to share this with her – the energy in the air was powerful and Scully felt on top of the world. Stella told her she loved her multiple times, and she counted herself lucky every time it happened, but this was different – this was something Stella had shared in confidence with one of her best friends. If something, anything was wrong she’d have told him, but Mike knew of only love between them. No matter the struggles they’d gone through, the distance, Mulder, her indecisiveness, the key, all of that apparently still added up to unconditional love for Stella. Like it did for her, she realized. She didn’t want to change one thing about their love. To describe it as perfect would be lazy and insufficient.

Soon the tables were cleared and the guests gathered close to the lake again as the sun was setting. The area had a big barn-like building that held a bar, seating and what looked like a dance floor. The porch was lit up by fairy lights and a few candles, and a piano sat in a corner where presumably a band would play later. The grooms provided everyone with a glass of wine and Scully smirked as she realized they wouldn’t be seated. She’d have even more reason to cuddle up to Stella when she joined her.

One of the bridesmaids Scully recognized from the ceremony came to the front and directed Mike and Thomas to two high seats that were perched slightly to the side of the porch, effectively making it a stage. She got a microphone from inside and addressed the crowd. ‘I’m so happy all of you are here. This is a wonderful celebration of love and happiness, and marriage, and ultimately life,’ she said. ‘Now I’m sure there’s some of you who’d like to say a few words. Who’s first?’ A man Scully had identified as Thomas’ father stepped forward and took the microphone, telling everyone how he’d met Mike and how Mike had found his way into his heart. Scully’s mind wandered to her own family – She wanted to introduce Stella but she was afraid of letting them down, again, somehow, and she hated herself for feeling that way. Love shouldn’t be a let-down. She wasn’t going to let it be.

As her mind wandered and the speeches went on and people cheered and clapped Scully noticed the glint of a red velvet suit in the barn. For a moment she thought she’d imagined it but then she saw it again – Stella was in there, and even though Scully couldn’t make out what she was doing she was glad to at least see her again.

Thomas stepped up and took the microphone. ‘Now, ladies and gentlemen, I know you’re all here for the free alcohol but there’s someone who wants to… do one final speech.’ Scully’s lips formed into a smile. Of course, Stella. She’d have a clever, beautiful speech about life and death and friends and love, to close off the speeches and start the party. Scully shifted in her seat and caught Thomas’ eyes as he winked at her. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, and Mike…  Stella Gibson.’ The crowd laughed and cheered.

The lights on the patio dimmed and a man sat down behind the piano. He started to play, a few seemingly random tunes before pausing and checking off to his right into the dark. He scanned the crowd before starting the tunes again.

Stella walked on stage, her confidence wavering slightly as she took the spotlight and rose a microphone to her crimson lips. She shook her loose hair back behind her shoulders and quickly glanced at Scully before floating her eyes across the area. Her dark red suit shone in the light and her fingers fidgeted with the edge for a moment, adjusting it to cover the edge of her lacy bralette.

Scully’s heart stopped.

Stella walked to the middle of the patio and smiled at the pianist, signaling him to start before taking one last deep breath. She closed her eyes and felt the music.

Not really sure how to feel about it, something in the way you move

Tears rose in Scully’s throat like a shaken bottle of champagne as her heart resumed its task and instead tried to beat and claw its way out of her chest. Stella’s gentle voice was careful at first, testing the tune, feeling the words with her lips and her soul.

Makes me feel like I can’t live without you and it takes me all the way

I want you to stay, want you to say.

Stella’s voice was low, slightly hoarse and perfectly raw as she found herself in the song, slowly and deliberately caressing the words. Her voice found more and more force and Scully watched through the lens of her tears as Stella kept her eyes closed and swayed lightly to the sounds of the piano. Open your eyes Stella, she thought. Find me.

Stella continued to sing, her voice uniquely her and so truthful it shook Dana to her core. Stella’s hips swayed to the words, and her hair waved lightly around her soft shoulders – if Dana wasn’t mesmerized by her voice already she was enchanted by her looks, and she felt her heart float higher and higher as the words flowing from Stella’s lips filled with relevance.

Round and around and around and around we go

Oh now, tell me now, tell me now, tell me now you know

 

Finally Stella’s eyelids trembled and her tongue licked her lips. She opened her eyes and immediately found Dana’s. The pace picked up slightly and a wicked smile touched Stella’s lips as she clearly found confidence and capability in Scully’s presence. The air around them seemed to hug them and seal them in a vacuum in which nothing else existed but Stella’s heart, Dana’s heart and the connection that inexplicably ran stronger and stronger every second they existed in the same space.

 

All along it was a fever

A cold sweat hot-headed believer

 

Scully wiped her cheeks and couldn’t fight the wide smile that had planted itself firmly on her cheeks. New tears fell from her eyes and Stella blinked quickly a few times, trying to control her emotions as an edge of pure depth tore itself through her words.  Her voice cracked on the next sentence and Scully’s tears ran down her cheeks, the perfection of the moment too much for her to stomach, and a woman next to her put her hand on Dana’s arm. Dana smiled back at her, reassuring her it was okay, and when she turned to face Stella again she felt Stella’s ice blue eyes like fire in her soul.

 

I threw my hands in the air, said, "Show me something"

She said, "If you dare, come a little closer"

Round, and around and around and around we go.

Oh now, tell me now, tell me now, tell me now you know.

 

‘I know,’ she mouthed at Stella, whose eyes told her everything she needed to know.  She didn’t look away again, but kept her eyes piercing straight into Stella’s, feeding her all the love and support she had to give because her heart was fuller than it had ever been before. She felt proud and so, so loved and she never wanted the feeling to go away.

 

Oh, the reason I hold on

'cause I need this hole gone

 

Funny you're the broken one but I'm the only one who needed saving

'Cause when you never see the light it's hard to know which one of us is caving.

 

Finally Stella couldn’t hold it together anymore as she allowed her mask to crack and release the tears that had been building up on the fragile equilibrium of her lower lash line. She reached out a hand to Dana and curled her fingers back into her palm one by one before tucking her clenched fist in her pant pocket. Dana nodded at her and sobbed, feeling overwhelmed by the sheer display of affection and truth. This wasn’t just for Mike and Thomas. It was for her. Stella gathered herself, let the piano play an extra riff and continued to sing.

 

Not really sure how to feel about it

Something in the way you move

Makes me feel like I can't live without you

It takes me all the way

I want you to stay, stay

I want you to stay.

 

Stella’s brow furrowed as she released a shuddering breath and finished the song softly, a faint smile crossing her lips as her eyes wandered from Dana’s to Mike and Thomas.

The piano continued for a few more moments, slowly rounding out the song, and Stella smiled thankfully at the pianist. ‘Thank you,’ she said to him and then to the crowd, where people had started to clap enthusiastically. ‘Thank you.’ She bowed lightly. ‘Mike, Thomas… I’m so happy and excited for your journey and I hope I can continue to be a part of yours as you are of mine.’ She handed the microphone to Thomas and Mike pulled her in for a hug, kissing her cheek as he was visibly sobbing. A few more thank you’s were exchanged and the pianist started a new tune, giving the grooms some privacy as the crowd started to talk amongst themselves and some people headed off into the bar.

Scully found her way towards the grooms where Stella was still tightly in Mike’s arms. Mike released her and turned towards Thomas to kiss him. Scully touched her hand to the flat of Stella’s lower back, making her turn around as she knew who was behind her. Dana’s hand slid easily across the soft fabric of Stella’s blazer and she was met with two unsure, but clear deep blue eyes as Stella focused on her. Silence embraced them as in one second Dana’s gaze showed Stella everything she could ever need to know. ‘Hi,’ Stella said softly, her voice sweet and slightly giddy. ‘I didn’t know you could sing,’ Dana replied with a thin voice as she found Stella’s hand and put her knuckles up to her lips. She kissed the soft skin she found there before releasing her hands and cradling her face between her fingers. Stella leaned in, not knowing what to say and instead craving Dana’s presence closer than humanly possible in the vulnerability she suddenly felt. Dana kissed her softly, catching and sucking Stella’s bottom lip between hers before kissing her cheek, below her ear and finally her neck as she pulled Stella in for the tightest hug they’d ever shared. ‘Dana,’ Stella breathed as she returned the hug, holding her warmth as close as she could as she felt Scully tremble slightly in her arms. ‘It’s okay,’ she whispered. ‘It’s just a song. We adapted it slightly and all we had was a piano and…’

Scully sniffed and pulled back to cut her off. ‘It’s not just a song, Stel. It was beautiful. What a wonderful gift.’ Stella shrugged. ‘Told you I had a surprise.’ Dana shook her head in disbelief and pulled her bottom lip between her teeth as she separated herself from Stella. ‘Come on, I’ll get you a drink.’ She pulled Stella towards the bar where they found a seat and Dana got them both red wine. ‘Will you sing to me some day?’ she asked quietly. ‘I just did,’ Stella smiled at her, gratefully taking the wine glass Dana offered her.  Dana smirked. ‘Yeah, but I mean… In private?’ Stella sighed as she feigned annoyance. ‘I know a whole array of other things I want to do to you when we’re in private.’ Scully pouted at her, the light in her eyes betraying her as she couldn’t hold back her smile. ‘All right,’ Stella conceded quickly. ‘I’ll sing you a lullaby some time.’ Scully raised her chin in victory. ‘Can’t wait.’ Her eyes wandered down Stella’s cleavage to the edge of the blazer, where a tiny rim of cream colored lace peeked from between her breasts. Scully looked around the crowd to see if anyone was paying them any attention before carefully running the tip of her finger down Stella’s chest to the button holding her jacket together. ‘Risky,’ she commented as she bit her lip. ‘Hmm,’ Stella hummed, licking her lips as she kept her eyes on Dana’s face. ‘Let’s enjoy ourselves at the party and if you behave here I’ll let you take it off later.’ Dana shrugged and withdrew her finger. ‘If I behave, huh. Okay.’ She folded her arms in front of her on the bar and raised her eyebrow at the way Stella’s shoulders fell slightly. ‘Your rules,’ she shrugged. Stella gazed squarely at her for a second before taking a healthy sip of wine.

Song after song played and happiness filled their brains to the brim as they danced together. Finally the music slowed down and Stella held out her hand to pull Dana close, feeling the warmth of her body radiate through her dress as the glow on Dana’s cheeks betrayed her slight intoxication. ‘Can you still slow dance?’ Stella teased her. ‘Or does Dana Scully not slow dance?’ Scully straightened her spine as her hand crept around Stella’s waist to pull her close. ‘She slow dances,’ Dana confirmed. ‘Just not usually at weddings.’ Stella smiled and wrapped her arms around Dana, holding her ear to ear as they swayed to the music. It felt intimate and vulnerable but not more so than anything else they’d done tonight, and somehow the longer they were together the less Stella cared about how vulnerable something felt as long as Dana was with her.

As they danced Stella felt Dana’s chin on her shoulder, a slight tremble finding its way from Dana’s body all the way to Stella’s heart. Stella didn’t have to look into Dana’s eyes to see the tears that were quietly running down Dana’s cheeks. Tears of happiness, of peace and some strange form of surrender that had captivated Stella as well – there was no enemy here. Only allies. Their friends were their allies, their surroundings sung to them and their love was the greatest ally of them all. Stella allowed it to fill her like it had filled Dana and even though it didn’t move her to tears, it moved her hands further around her lover’s waist and her soul closer and closer until it touched Dana’s with light and only light.

‘Don’t ruin the suit,’ Stella whispered to Dana, a hidden smile curving around her lips. ‘Don’t ruin. The. Suit?’ Scully repeated teasingly, feigning disbelief with a slightly hoarse voice. ‘If I’d have known the suit would come before me I wouldn’t have let you wear it.’

Stella pulled back a little to look at her squarely. ‘I know of nothing that comes before you, Dana,’ she said truthfully. ‘Nothing.’


Song: Stay by Cat Power, original by Rihanna

Chapter Text

Not much later they said their goodbyes and left the party. They’d see everyone at brunch tomorrow before all the guests would leave for home and Stella knew she’d get a few jokes from Mike thrown her way but she would gladly take them if it meant she could take Dana right now. Dana caught Stella’s hand as she said goodnight to Thomas and Stella followed her feverishly, trying to conceal the wine in her step but failing as her heels wobbled behind Dana’s slightly more coordinated step.

It didn’t take them long though to open and close the door to their house. Within seconds Stella had Dana in her arms, her face buried in the curve of Dana’s neck and her lips locked to the skin that had been begging her for attention all evening. ‘God, Stella, wait,’ Dana tried, but Stella ignored her and pushed her backwards into the room. She had no idea where she was headed, but she knew she had Dana with her who would show her the way.

Dana searched for something to hold on to, pulling Stella with her and ending up with her back against the kitchen counter. ‘Stel,’ she breathed, running her hands along Stella’s long spine and reveling in the soft warmth of Stella’s velvet body. Stella sought her mouth and kissed her deeply, feverishly almost, with an urgency that Scully recognized as something that couldn’t be put into words, but had to be shown. She clasped Stella’s clothes between her fingers, trying to hold her close and calm her down but Stella wouldn’t have it. Stella’s fingers quickly found the zipper of Dana’s dress and she tried to maneuver it down while entangling her tongue with Dana’s. Scully giggled and assisted her, but Stella grasped her wrists and redirected her hands to her body. ‘Touch me,’ she demanded, and Dana complied.

Stella finally got a grip on Scully’s zipper and moved it down, sliding her palms onto Dana’s shoulders and under the fabric of the dress as soon as she could. ‘You’re so warm,’ Stella commented as her hands slid across Dana’s slightly sweaty back , and Dana nodded because she felt like she was boiling from the inside. Even though the air outside had been chilly as they walked back she’d been and still felt on fire, filled to the brim with lava about to explode. She kissed Stella’s lips once more before trying to lick her way down to her cleavage, but Stella stopped her. ‘Please,’ Dana pleaded and when Stella shook her head Dana kissed her hard and pushed herself off of the edge of the counter. Turning them around with a force she didn’t know she had Dana trapped Stella to the kitchen top, pushing her thigh between Stella’s legs and pulling back to look at her. She shook the hair out of her face and looked at Stella, whose eyes burned with desire. ‘I said please.’

Stella grinned as fire raged within her . ‘I did say you could do whatever you wanted if you behaved, didn’t I.’ Dana just smiled wickedly at her and traced her fingertips down the edge of Stella’s blazer again. ‘I think I deserve this.’ Stella licked her lips. ‘I think we both do.’ She carefully freed the flower that was still delicately placed in Scully’s hair and put it down behind her on the counter. Scully felt desire and heat run through her body as she latched her mouth back onto Stella’s skin, where goosebumps had risen to the chilly night sky. As she ran her fingertips across Stella’s breasts she felt her nipples hard beneath the fabric, and Stella pushed against the lace and velvet covering her. Dana took Stella’s breasts in her hands, supporting them, weighing and studying them carefully before taking her nipples between her fingers and teasing Stella a little rougher. ‘Fuck,’ Stella moaned as she relaxed against the kitchen counter. Dana used the thin lace of Stella’s bra to lightly scrape across her skin, teasing her until both of them needed more. Scully sighed deeply and breathed in the skin of Stella’s collarbone before finally traveling the path she’d been wanting to travel for hours. Her tongue ,wet and thick against Stella’s skin, tasted the excitement and tension of the day. Stella’s hands pulled Dana’s dress forward to take it off of her upper body but Scully stopped her, wanting to focus on Stella instead. ‘Let me,’ she whispered between Stella’s breasts, and Stella looked down to where she knew she could never say no.

T he wine in Stella’s body caused her to be slightly unsteady on her heels and she chuckled at herself as she almost tipped over, her body conducted by the current Dana was fueling inside of her, and Dana leaned back a little to give Stella room to kick off her heels. She opened the button and zipper on her pants as well, grabbing Dana’s hands to push them down as her own fingers finally clasped the front of Dana’s dress and slid it down with flat palms across her upper body. ‘Stella,’ Dana whined as the dress pooled at her feet. She stepped out of it and flung it to the side, kneeling to pull the edges of Stella’s red pants over her ankles. Stella leaned down to watch, wanting to direct Dana’s head back up to hers but Dana’s flat tongue on her shins stopped her. ‘Oh,’ she moaned as she stood back up, watching Dana as she rubbed her hands along Stella’s leg muscles, massaging them, up, up to her thighs where she took a softer approach as her tongue kissed and worshiped Stella’s faint scars. Stella let her, too hot and clouded by the day’s events to care about the sting she felt in her heart.

Scully’s teeth finally found her panties, nipping on the edge and letting it snap lightly back into place, licking her tongue wetly across the edge back up to Stella’s hip. Her palms followed, lightly touching Stella’s inner thighs and tracing her fingers along the edges of her labia, making Stella moan and her body tingle with arousal. Stella felt her clit ache for Dana’s touch, she could almost feel her fingers and her tongue lave across but they weren’t there, they were still going, traveling up her clothed sides and along the center of her stomach to meet with the velvet covered heat of her torso again. Scully released the single button holding Stella’s blazer together and pushed the f abric to the side, burying her face between Stella’s quivering abdominal muscles and the warmth of her body heat caught in the fabric of her clothes. Stella wound her hands in Scully’s hair and tried to pull her up, the shaking of her arms frustrating her as she failed to direct Dana’s tongue and was forced to give up and just feel her.

Dana pushed her face between Stella’s breasts again, pushing her skin against Stella’s as her hands felt and kneaded Stella’s breasts softly at first, then a little rougher as the heat between them rose. Dana had her trapped against the counter again, but Stella still tried to push her hips into freedom as Dana increased her force. The skin of Dana’s thigh rubbed against her pubic bone and Stella moaned, raising her leg to curl it around Dana’s hip. She pulled her in close, needing to feel Dana’s skin against hers as her b ody sought every possible contact with its mate.

As if something snapped, Dana became quiet. She stood up straight, her hand grabbing Stella’s leg and putting it back down as she stepped back a little. Stella’s hands dropped to her sides, holding onto the edge for balance. ‘Take it off,’ Dana asked as her eyes roamed Stella’s upper body. ‘Take it off for me.’ Stella frowned lightly at Dana’s sudden focus, reaching for one of her hands, craving the physical contact Scully had so suddenly broken. Stella whimpered, a sound Scully had rarely heard before, and she watched how Stella’s brow furrowed and she swallowed. ‘I want you to do it,’ Stella’s voice suddenly sounded clearly and confidently through the house. She pushed herself off of the counter and stepped into Dana, making her take a step backwards, suddenly challenging her with her chin high and a twist of her neck that made her curls bounce. Stella’s hands lightly and quickly skimmed Dana’s breasts and landed on her hips as her eyes challenged her. ‘Do it, Dana.’

T he air between them stilled for a moment before it buckled under the pressure of their attraction. The pure magnetism in their hearts set Dana’s feet in motion , it pulled her hands to Stella’s cheeks and it clashed their hips together as Dana fiercely kissed Stella and pressed their bodies into each other as closely as they c ould go. Her hands caressed Stella’s cheeks before swiftly moving back down to Stella’s clothed chest, raking her nails down the outside of her jacket across Stella’s nipples and back up again until Stella caught her wrists. ‘Take it off, Dana,’ she repeated urgently and Dana found her eyes. She hooked her hands under the collar and skimmed her palms across Stella’s shoulders, feeling every bone and muscle under her warm skin tense and release to her touch. The blazer came willingly, knowing it wasn’t wanted or needed anymore, and Stella straightened her back and pushed her chest into Dana as the piece of clothing slowly made its way down her arms. Scully pulled Stella forward a little with her hand on the small of Stella’s back. She followed the fabric with her lips, pushing a wet kiss onto Stella’s fair skin, tracing her tongue along the curves of Stella’s arm down until she reached the inside of Stella’s elbow. She changed course to Stella’s breast, finally pushing the blazer down onto the floor before her fingers quickly unclasped Stella’s bralette and tore it off her body. Stella breathed heavily, her body shaking and feeling incredibly light with Scully’s intensity and buzzing with alcoholic euphoria. At least, that’s what she was telling herself for now.

Here?’ Scully asked, her lips back on Stella’s neck as her hands now freely touched Stella’s breasts. ‘Yes,’ Stella breathed, and Scully tapped behind her. ‘Get up here then,’ she commanded, and Stella twisted her hips to shuffle onto the counter. She hit her heel loudly against the cupboard as she struggled to get up and a cup fell into the sink next to them, and Scully chuckled into her skin. Stella’s fingers gripped onto Scully’s back, her fingertips pushing her close as she leaned down to find Dana’s lips again. ‘Fuck me on the kitchen counter,’ she requested hoarsely before capturing Scully’s lips in a searing kiss. Scully nodded into her and entangled her tongue with Stella’s as her fingers pinched Stella’s nipples.

D ana’s fingers had Stella going crazy with desire as they finally left her breasts and traveled down to her panties again, lightly scratching across the soft lace until her hand was buried between Stella’s thighs and the counter. She struggled a bit to find her way and Stella shuffled a little closer to the edge, angling her hips up towards Dana. They kissed feverishly, Scully moaning as Stella’s fingers raked across her breasts. Stella pulled back to look at Dana, really look at her for the first time since they’d entered their house, and a rush of wetness met Dana’s fingers as she saw the pale yellow patterns of Dana’s bra against her flushed skin dusted with freckles. ‘You look so damn good,’ Stella moaned, trailing her hand up to Scully’s neck before flatly moving her palm back down her sternum again. Dana smiled at her and watched the truth behind Stella’s eyes before letting her eyes wander down to where her fingers were touching Stella. She slid two fingers through Stella’s wetness, teasing her, allowing her to move against them in rhythm with their breaths. ‘Stop teasing me,’ Stella whimpered. ‘Please fuck me.’ Scully’s eyes shot op to Stella’s in a second, fire bursting from inside. ‘Ask me again,’ she groaned confidently as she pushed one finger into Stella’s begging body. ‘Beg me.’

I don’t...’ Stella started, but Dana withdrew and licked her lips, testing her own resolve almost as much as Stella’s. ‘Okay, okay,’ Stella mumbled in defeat. ‘Please, I need you to fuck me. Dana, please make me come.’ She’d commanded man and women all her life. She’d told them to work slower, faster, harder, more, go deeper, but she rarely begged them for any of those things. But Dana was the one that would make her. And in doing it she found great freedom, great surrender, the commander for once being commanded and she found there was power in her plea as well as peace. ‘I know you can, I know you can,’ she repeated, burying her face in Dana’s hair, her voice breaking and unsteady and her hands asking Dana to please listen and obey because she was fast running out of control but maybe that was the point.

Sorry,’ Scully whispered to her, barely audible as her fingers finally pushed on and Stella’s head fell back. ‘No, I need it,’ Stella said more forcefully than she thought herself capable of. ‘I need you.’ Scully kissed her chin, her neck, down to her chest again as an apology and also acceptance, utter acceptance and surrender to that thing that was uniquely them. Stella had pulled away before when Scully asked too much, but little by little they were learning to push boundaries and to cross lines together and ultimately trust that they were safe.

God yes,’ Stella moaned loudly into the open air around them as Scully pushed and curled her fingers inside of her, the urgency of her hand in total opposition to the soft love her tongue was making to the skin of her chest. Dana licked and nipped, mapping the entire surface of Stella’s skin like she’d never seen it before, and Stella felt a trail of fire sizzle straight through her body to where Dana’s fingers were pushing on and on. Dana changed her angle slightly and Stella gripped the edge of the counter. ‘Fuck, your hand,’ she moaned, and Dana pushed her palm further into Stella’s pubic bone. Stella shifted underneath her, chasing the contact, and she fell down onto one elbow as the other roughly grabbed Dana’s hair. ‘You’re so good,’ Stella managed as she pulled Dana up to meet her again. Their lips crashed together, not really kissing, just together and Dana breathed deeply trying desperately to push Stella over the edge. ‘Please Stella,’ she moaned. Stella nodded into her, trying to control her breathing with the beating and roaring inside of her. ‘I’m going to come,’ she warned. ‘For me?’ Dana managed, pushing her fingers deeper and softly nibbling on Stella’s lip before Stella spoke again. ‘Of course for you,’ she admitted on a breath, and Scully felt her entire body tense up and release as a rush of heat flooded Stella’s brain and her body surrendered to orgasm.

An inaudible string of syllables and half-words flooded from Stella’s mouth into Dana’s soul as she came, her body clutching Dana’s close, holding on to her as her legs cramped and her insides quivered. ‘God, you’re beautiful,’ Dana whimpered as she felt her own arousal grow steadily with the sight of Stella’s body in the throes of orgasm. Stella clutched her close and dug her nails in Dana’s back, intending to never let her go again. She dug her heels in the backs of Scully’s legs and threw her arms around her as soon as she could, clutching Dana’s entire body close to her as her orgasm subsided. Dana withdrew her hand carefully and dragged her fingers up Stella’s sides, leaving a wet trail on one side and making Stella shiver before locking them tightly behind Stella’s back .

Fuck that was hot,’ Stella giggled after a few moments. Her chest heaved as she pulled back to look at Scully, who was using Stella’s body to keep herself up on unsteady legs. Stella’s hands slid along Dana’s shoulders, feeling the scratch marks she must have left there, before coming down to Dana’s upper arms. ‘Dana, let me go,’ she whispered softly and Dana looked up at her. ‘Sorry if I scratched your back,’ Stella apologized before kissing Dana’s cheek. The only response she got was the corner of Dana’s quivering mouth turning up a little in a kind of smile, one that meant so much more than any words ever could. ‘Come on,’ Stella grasped Dana’s arms and disentangled herself before pushing herself off the edge of the counter. She readjusted her panties and grasped Dana’s hand, reaching up to tuck a stray lock of Dana’s hair behind her ear. Quietly, unsteadily, Stella guided Dana to the bedroom where she released her hand. Dana was still silent, her chest heaving and her knees trembling as she stood before Stella. ‘Lie down,’ Stella asked her softly.

She took her sweet time making love to Dana as Dana had made love to her. She kissed everything, everywhere, allowing her love to fill Dana’s heart until there was no more space left to fill and it overflowed, pouring out onto their bodies where it left trails of lava down Dana’s breasts, along the underside of her feet and all the way to the center of her body where everything met and intense fire collided with sparkling electricity. Stella’s fingers and mouth followed every path Dana’s body showed her, reading every clue and translating every tiny sound her body made to make her feel as much as she possibly could. Stella took her time, allowing Dana to slow down, to be loved, and Dana breathed and moaned through everything until her hands grabbed the sheets and her sweaty body pushed itself further and further into Stella’s circling fingers and she came. A sobbing wail finally giving way to the tears that had been building up for close to an hour, ever since Stella had started her slow and almost tantric loving of her body and soul. Stella stayed close to her, knowing Scully had probably never experienced this before, and she was beyond honored to be the one to be allowed to love her like this. She just held Dana in silence until finally Scully’s body quieted down, exhausted but full of love, and she turned her head to look at Stella. Stella smiled a shining smile at her. ‘ For you,’ she said, and kissed Scully’s cheek before pushing herself off the bed. ‘I’m going to use the bathroom, you decide if you want to sleep on your side of the bed or on the couch.’ Dana frowned and then blushed as she realized the wet spot she was going to leave behind. ‘Oh.’ Stella winked at her and managed to make it to the bathroom, unsteadily high on love and liquor.

You’re not broken,’ Stella said softly. ‘What?’ Scully replied sleepily, her voice cracking and heavy.

They were on Stella’s side of the bed, Dana having grabbed a blanked off the couch after a quick shower and before spooning Stella in the warmth of their lovemaking. ‘Funny you’re the broken one but I’m the only one who needed saving,’ Stella quoted the song softly. ‘But you’re not the broken one.’ ‘Neither of us is,’ Scully smiled, pressing her lips to Stella’s naked shoulder. She tasted a remainder of her own lipstick there and she smiled to herself. Stella sighed and turned onto her back to look at Dana. ‘It’s just lyrics, Stella,’ Scully tried to put her mind at ease. ‘And maybe we’re no such thing as broken. Just… shattered. In pieces.’ ‘Is there really a difference?’ Stella said, her eyes open and clear with something akin to doubt. ‘We’re like a mosaic,’ Scully mused. ‘Maybe we’re supposed to be like that.’ Stella breathed out a lazy smile and her look glistened with something beautiful. ‘Shattered, but complete.’ Scully pushed herself up onto her elbow and leaned in to kiss Stella softly. ‘And a work of art, just the way you are and are supposed to be.’

 

Stella returned the kiss before turning back onto her side again, pushing herself closer into Dana’s body and breathing out contently as Dana wrapped her arm more tightly around Stella’s stomach. Never had she thought she’d be little spoon to anyone’s perfectly shattered mosaic, but here she was. It was spiky and broken and sometimes it hurt but it always fit together, even the odd shaped pieces, and it was the odd shaped pieces that made it so special. As her eyelids grew heavy and her brain fell asleep her heart sparkled with something she’d never felt before, a feeling deeper and more complete than anything she’d allowed herself to feel. Surrender. To herself and to everything going inside of her heart – Because of Dana she knew it wasn’t something she had to fight, she knew it was okay and good and also finally the only thing she could, and should, ultimately, trust.

Chapter Text

 

Stella woke up in the middle of the night surrounded by darkness. Thoughts were racing through her head, useless thoughts, ones that unsettled her and ones she wished would stay away – but they didn’t, and here she was, next to Dana but alone with her own mind.

She left their bed to use the bathroom after what felt like an hour of continuous thoughts running through her mind. As she softly crossed the room and wrapped her dressing gown tightly around her she considered waking Dana – she called her sometimes, just to talk, and she didn’t look at the time then, so why would she now? However she didn’t even exactly know what it was that was bothering her, so waking Dana just to not be the only one awake seemed pointless, right?

Or was it?

Stella sighed as she switched on the bathroom light and looked into the bathroom mirror. Her hair was slightly mussed up, her remaining mascara smudged under her lower lash line. Dark circles were visible under her eyes but she looked happy. Underneath it all, despite it all she looked content and peaceful and it angered her. She had so much left to do, to say, so much to get through yet here she was, disgustingly happy, smiling at her reflection. As if this was normal. As if this wasn’t some kind of twisted dream she was in, one she’d been in for a while now and one that got closer and closer to its end every second she remained ignorant. She’d been getting closer and closer to telling Dana she was ready to move in with her, take that next step, dive into the ultimate unknown but somehow the more she thought of it the more she didn’t think it was real. They hadn’t talked about it. Dana hadn’t pushed or even mentioned it much. Had she forgotten? Was everything nothing more than an illusion, just a stupid thing her mind had conjured up in the name of love?

Dana would tell her to not think about the future like this. She’d tell her to take a deep breath and look at what was in front of them. The reality of things. Tangible, real, actual feelings and sounds and words that flowed through time and space and made up their current life. But Stella knew its fragility – spider web, mosaic, however you wanted to call it it was breakable, destructible, and even though she had been fighting and fighting against her natural instinct that told her to run she couldn’t shake the feeling that this, them, at a wedding, was probably the furthest she’d ever stepped out of her reality in her life.

She jumped as a hand touched her arm. ‘Jesus,’ she cursed. ‘Shh, just me,’ Dana whispered as she studied Stella carefully. ‘You okay?’ Stella shrugged. ‘Yes.’ Dana released her but continued to carefully read her expression. ‘You sure?’

Stella huffed in defeat and met Dana’s eyes. ‘It’s… nothing, Dana. I’ll be fine.’ Dana swallowed and smiled a weak smile. ‘Please talk to me. I know you too well, Stella.’ Stella walked past her back into the bedroom, sitting on the edge of the bed as Dana got in next to her. Stella turned towards her, tucking one foot under her as Dana looked at her expectantly. ‘Dana…’ Stella sighed. ‘If you don’t want to talk that’s fine too,’ Scully said softly, but a hint of sadness lined her voice. ‘But I think I know what’s wrong. I feel it too.’ Stella bit her lip. ‘And what is that?’

‘Peace. Everything is too peaceful, too easy here. I’m with you, you’re with me, and it’s perfect… only it’s not, and it’s not supposed to be. What happens after? Life continues and we still have so much uncertainty, so much to talk about and to get through but here it all seems to fade away.’

Stella just gazed at her, an arch in her perfect brow and a mascara stained muscle under her eye trembling slightly under the weightless burden of Dana’s words. Dana remained quiet, letting her truth settle in until Stella released a deep breath. ‘Fuck that,’ she muttered. ‘We’ll talk about it later. Right now I just need you close.’ Dana blinked heavily, not really content that Stella was stalling their conversation, but she knew to give Stella space if Stella needed it. So she opened the blanket and watched wordlessly how Stella curled herself up into her side, her face right next to Dana’s, her hand finding Dana’s on her warm stomach. ‘Sleep, I’ll be fine,’ Stella whispered into Scully’s cheek. Scully turned her head to kiss Stella lightly. ‘Promise me we can talk about this tomorrow.’ Stella nodded lightly. ‘I promise.’

Three hours later she woke to Dana’s lips on her shoulder. ‘Morning,’ Dana said, her voice heavy with sleep still. ‘What time is it?’ Stella groaned, her head throbbing with a dull unavoidable headache. ‘Seven thirty,’ Dana replied. ‘You know we don’t have to be anywhere before brunch, right?’ Stella sighed. ‘I do, but I thought we could talk,’ Scully said slowly, her lips still close to Stella’s skin. ‘If that’s okay with you.’ Stella directed her eyes up at the ceiling, gathering her courage and willing her brain to wake up. ‘Okay. But I don’t want to do it here.’ Scully nodded lightly, pushing herself up to leave the warmth of her bed. ‘Let’s go for a walk.’ She got up and looked through her clothes, finding a long cotton dress and a cardigan and heading into the bathroom. ‘I’ll only be a few minutes.’

Stella used the few minutes Dana knowingly gave her to gather her thoughts. She needed the outdoors, the space, the lack of confinement and the structure of movement and she loved that Dana understood that, but it also annoyed her. Why couldn’t she be here, with Dana, in the safety and warmth of their relationship? She sighed deeply at her own behavior, cursing it, wishing she hadn’t gone to this wedding at all before stopping herself. No. This was a good thing. She just needed to get through the rough bits.

Dana came back into the room to find Stella waiting, a small stack of clothes that looked too fancy for a morning stroll tucked safely in the space between her arm and her side.  She walked up to her, a small smile gracing her beautiful face that spoke of peace and serenity. The soft lines on her skin formed a quiet expression, lined with bright expectation and something deeper. Stella studied it in the time she was given and didn’t move as Dana approached her, stepping into her personal space and touching her hands to Stella’s arm. Stella lifted her chin and the corner of her mouth curved up to accept Dana’s quiet offer. ‘We’ll talk,’ Stella confirmed quietly, and Dana nodded lightly as she turned her head to kiss her. Dana’s lips were soft and warm and Stella captured them with confidence, pushing herself closer to Dana as their kiss deepened. Scully smiled into their kiss before pulling away. ‘Good morning,’ she whispered as she walked past Stella into the kitchen. Stella turned to watch her for a few seconds before shaking her head to herself and leaving to get ready. Why was she fighting everything this woman was ready to offer her?

The bathroom mirror mocked her again as she wiped away the remains of last night’s make-up, cleaning the slate for a new day that would bring new memories and new emotions. Stella knew she had to tell Scully what was on her mind – Scully deserved it, and so did she. Splashing some cold water in her face she sighed deeply.

A few minutes later Scully looked up from her glass of water as she heard Stella come back into the room, dressed in sleek black pants and a t-shirt. Her black bra was slightly visible through the thin cream fabric of her shirt and the lines of her body looked lean and beautiful. Scully smiled sweetly and offered Stella a glass. ‘Thanks,’ Stella accepted it as she regarded Scully over the edge of the cup. Scully exhaled and lightly shook her head. Stella ignored her, sipping the contents of the cup before placing it back next to where Scully was leaning against the counter. ‘Join me for that walk?’ Stella gathered their keys and found her trainers. ‘Yep,’ Scully confirmed before finishing her water and following Stella outside.

They found a field with a path leading down next to it, illuminated by the warm morning sun. Scully carefully watched Stella as she extended her hand and let it glide across the tops of the golden strands that blew softly in the wind – a scene from a movie, the movie of their life intertwined with reality and Scully felt her heart swell, but she also felt a shiver run through her bones – they needed to talk. She was surprised when Stella turned around and looked squarely at her, her hand still extended but no longer touching anything. Scully increased her speed and caught up the single step she had been behind Stella, grasping her hand firmly. ‘I want to tell you something,’ Stella said with a clarity that made Dana’s heart jump. ‘Okay,’ Dana replied.

Stella redirected her gaze back to the path in front of them. She sighed deeply and swallowed. ‘This… is all a little too perfect,’ she started. ‘Yesterday was one of the best days of my life, if not the best. I never thought I’d say that of a day like that. And it’s because of you.’ Scully squeezed Stella’s hand a little tighter. ‘Don’t thank me.’ Stella smiled. ‘I wasn’t going to. I just need you to know that it’s been wonderful. It’s all been wonderful.’

 ‘And that’s the problem, isn’t it,’ Scully sighed. ‘You don’t trust wonderful.’ Stella bit her lip. ‘I want to. But I don’t. Perfection scares me. It’s not real.’ ‘This is real,’ Scully said softly, holding their clasped hands up before them. ‘This…’ She gestured around them with her free hand, ‘this is real. We have a place in this reality now.’ Stella looked around her, taking in the gentle breeze blowing through their hair and the rays of sun hitting them and warming their faces. ‘It feels real. And I want it to be real,’ she said. ‘But realities change. This… This can change. Any moment now something can happen and we’ll be reminded of everything that has ever stood between us.’

 ‘Nothing but ourselves has ever stood between us, Stella,’ Scully said gently after a few long seconds of silence. ‘We can’t control the future but we can control what we do with it.’ Stella continued her rhythmic stride down the path, subconsciously increasing her pace as Scully followed. Scully pulled lightly on her hand. ‘Stel, slow down.’

Stella stopped and turned towards her. Her eyes sparkled with something Dana didn’t recognize – not fear, not sadness, but something suspended in between by the threads woven by Stella’s past and her future. She released Dana’s hand and instantly missed her so she raised her hands again to reach for Dana’s fingers, grasping all of them firmly between hers as she looked at her toes on the pebbled floor. ‘I… I want to move in together,’ she said softly.

‘What?’ Scully asked softly. ‘How…’ ‘I don’t know why or how,’ Stella answered, her voice finding its strength again. ‘I want to move in together.’ Scully released a deep breath, blowing it out from her pursed lips as her eyes searched Stella’s face for any sign of hesitance. Finding none she focused on Stella’s eyes, deep like the sky, endless and hopeful and no trace of her earlier reservations. ‘But… I thought you were having doubts,’ Scully said softly. ‘I thought… I thought you might want to break up with me.’  ‘What?’ Stella’s mouth fell open. ‘Don’t be ridiculous. I love you, Dana, how could you think that?’ Scully shrugged. ‘You seemed to be moving away. I don’t know what was haunting you but I was afraid it might have pushed you too far.’ Stella shook her head and held on tightly to Dana’s hands. ‘Of course not. Yes, I was upset, and a little angry. But never at you. Only ever at myself, dear. We never talked about this. I don’t even know if you still want this and the fact that that scares me is what I wish I could change, but I can’t. So here I am, telling you that I’m going soft and I’m ready to move in with you if that’s still something you’d want.’ Her heart raced, her brain desperately trying to disassociate while also trying to catalogue and read every minor tremble of Dana’s muscles. Dana’s chin tensed. Her nose scrunched lightly and her eyebrows moved and next thing Stella noticed tears quietly but freely running down Dana’s face. Wholly unprepared she felt her heart crumble, shatter to sand at the sight of Dana’s ability to feel. ‘I’m sorry,’ she whispered to the redhead that was squeezing her fingers. Dana shook her head. ‘I don’t even know what you’re saying right now,’ she uttered. ‘Yes, of course I still want to live with you. I need you.’  Stella sighed and pulled her close, one hand coming to the back of Dana’s head to cradle her to her beating body. ‘And I need you,’ she admitted, and as she said it she felt a weight find its wings and fly away.

The technicalities and difficulties seemed unimportant, just like everything else around them they floated away on the gentle weaving of the golden bearded barley around them. Any objections or reservations Stella might have had in the past were chased along by the bounce in Scully’s step. Stella observed her as they continued to walk, words again something obsolete, but this time their silence wasn’t one that needed to end soon. There were no demons waiting. Only angels.  

They walked for almost an hour before they found themselves back in their little house. Scully tried to tempt Stella into getting back under the covers for a nap before they’d have to get up, but she found herself wrapped in Stella’s arms and pressed against the wall of their bedroom while Stella licked her way down Dana’s neck where her pulse beat loudly. They were rudely interrupted by the alarm on Dana’s phone and Stella sighed in frustration. ‘We can be late,’ she groaned as she continued her path down Dana’s neck. ‘We can’t,’ Scully breathed, ‘Come on, Stel, I’m not explaining it if we’re late.’ Stella lightly bit the skin she found under her lips. ‘All right,’ she conceded and tore herself away from Dana’s body, looking her up and down before running her hand through her hair. ‘Join me in the shower?’ Scully chuckled. ‘No,’ she laughed, shaking her head. ‘Go on, I’ll make coffee.’

Fifteen minutes later a freshly showered Stella walked into the kitchen where Dana had just finished making coffee. Stella was half-dressed and Dana chuckled at the sight before her, Stella Gibson with two hands behind her back desperately trying to look put-together as she was trying to zip up her dress from behind. Scully leaned back against the counter and watched from a distance until Stella sighed in frustration and finally met her eyes. Scully squinted at Stella. ‘So… We’re moving in together.’ It wasn’t a question, just a statement, something that eventually needed to be said out loud for it to really stick to this reality. Stella pursed her lips and shrugged, a warm smile playing behind her eyes. ‘Told you it might take some time.’

‘You know… Sometimes you remind me of a toaster I used to have,’ Dana grinned at Stella, who was back at attempting to conquer her zipper. Stella raised an eyebrow at her as she gave up and offered Dana her back. ‘Please zip me up, and do explain,’ she stated. Dana found the zipper of Stella’s dress with soft fingers, touching the texture of  Stella’s back while she still could. ‘It takes time to warm you up,’ Scully rationalized. ‘You know, you need to glow for a while. Let things simmer.’ She slowly inched the zipper upwards, taking her time and churning on the comparison that had formed in her head. ‘You need to warm to an idea. And then suddenly you’re ready, and sometimes I forgot that you were even thinking about something. Or I thought you weren’t thinking about it at all, but then you’re perfect and ready and you jump out and…’ Stella cut her off as the zipper reached the top, turned around and gently took Scully’s face between her hands. ‘I don’t even own a toaster,’ she whispered before kissing her deeply.  Scully kissed her back, capturing her lips that were, yes, glowing, and her eyes fell shut in utter warmth and happiness. ‘My toaster,’ she murmured between kisses, and giddiness overwhelmed her in its sweet innocence as Stella bit her lip and playfully slapped her backside.

They were only a few minutes late for brunch.