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One, Two, Three

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The first time it happens you're both completely wasted. You've found your way into an old barn to spend the night away from the bitter cold. Your walkers groan outside because she doesn't like to sleep with them so near and for once you let her have her way. You've checked the place out for supplies that may be of some use to you and grunt in annoyance when there is nothing useful anywhere. Just a few bottles of tequila that the previous owners had obviously stashed away. You wonder briefly why they are in the barn instead of the main house that you saw a few miles up the road and assumed was part of the same property. You do that sometimes—wonder about the lives that were connected to the buildings you break into. But you never wonder long; distraction always comes, and this time it comes in the form of your blonde companion waving a bottle under your nose.

By the time the bottle has been passed back and forth a few times you're tipsy and she is well on her way to being completely smashed. You've gotten the impression from the very beginning that she is a lightweight, and the fact that neither of you have eaten more than a can of beans for the past day or so is not helping. The more times the bottle is lifted to that pretty little mouth you like to look at so much, the louder she gets. You aren't drunk enough yet that you stop worrying about her attracting walkers. There's also that part of you that keeps pointing out how beautiful she looks this relaxed and how cute her laugh is, but you are trying desperately to ignore that particular devil on your shoulder. You want to blame it on the alcohol, but what you can't ignore is the fact that that little devil sits on your shoulder when you're sober, too.

You shake your head in annoyance at your own thoughts and move closer to her. Your proximity almost makes you forget why you moved in the first place. But when something (maybe your expression, though you aren't entirely sure what your body is doing anymore; the alcohol seems to have taken over. Or maybe it's that little devil...) tickles her and when she laughs again you remember and clap your hand against her mouth to stifle the sounds. Which is really a feat, since you've gotten to the point where you're almost seeing two of her. You shudder inwardly, thinking that one of her is plenty to deal with. You don't think you could handle two. Your poor heart may just stop.

While you're lost in your thoughts, she is trying to remove your hand from her face. The alcohol has impaired her coordination and even drunk you're stronger than her. So she settles for the next best thing.

She bites your hand.

Not hard enough to hurt you. She would never hurt you, even in this state. But hard enough to make you jump and pull your hand away, startled at the sudden heat that rushes to your face and then changes direction and heads south in a delightfully unexpected way.

She's smirking in a way that tells you she knows exactly the effect she just had on you. You don't know how she possibly could, but before you know what's happening you've both moved at once.

It's all fumbling hands under clothes that don't even come off and roaming lips that can't seem to decide where to stop for more that a second before finding a new patch of skin to assault It's all fuzzy in your mind, but certain things stick, like the little gasps that she breathes into your ear when your hands finally find the right spot, or the way when your body finally tenses up you see stars that are so bright you're sure she must be able to see them, too.

When you wake up the next morning your head is pounding so badly that you wonder if you hit your head on something. You have a few moments of unease because you can't remember how you got in the barn that turn into pure panic when you notice the empty spot next to you where you're sure your companion fell asleep the night before.

You jump up, ignoring the fierce protest of your head and the way the light is suddenly far too bright to be a normal winter morning. You blink a few times to regain your vision and your balance and hurry out the doors of the barn. They're open, and you're almost positive that you did not leave them open last night. Even in the state you were in, you would not have left those doors open.

You find the blonde crouched just outside the doors trembling as her body purges itself of the alcohol she consumed the night before. You bend down to rub her back in what you hope is a soothing manner, but at the contact all the details from the night before come rushing back and you draw away as quickly as if you were burned. Luckily, she is too preoccupied to notice your sudden reaction. However, when you pass her a rag and a bottle of water, the blush on her face reveals to you that she too remembers all the details.

As soon as you both feel relatively human again you pack up your things and move on from the barn. You prefer not to stay in one place for too long, and she has learned not to protest or ask questions. You don't look each other in the eye for the rest of the afternoon, and you don't speak.

But that evening when she finally tires and sits down (you're tired too, you are just too proud to admit it), you sit beside her and allow your shoulders to brush. You pointedly avoid her gaze that finally fixes on you with such intensity that you can't help but squirm. She scoots closer and links an arm through yours, cautiously leaning her head against your shoulder. You still avoid her gaze, but you lean your head on top of hers and sigh.

That night you sleep in a tangle of limbs, using the cold as an excuse to touch her again. But not until you discreetly pour out the bottle of tequila she had stowed in her bag.


The second time it happens she is weak and needy. It's late at night, and you're sitting on the windowsill looking out at the town below. There aren't many people out—just the citizens who are supposed to be on watch.

Citizens. That's not right. Just the word feels wrong. You're not citizens anymore, none of you. You don't belong anywhere anymore. You're all displaced people in a world gone to hell. So the word feels wrong on your tongue.

The whole town feels wrong. You can't place exactly why, but your instincts have kept you alive this long and you're not going to disregard them now.

However, you find yourself torn. You glance over at the mound of blankets that is your sleeping companion. She has been so sick. You were sure you were going to lose her while the two of you were in the woods. Even though you found medicine here and there, it wasn't enough and she was fading fast. You've never been the praying kind, but you found yourself praying constantly that you would find something, anything to save her.

You can't imagine life without her. That almost makes you laugh out loud. A year ago you were leaving your hometown on your own, positive that other people would just slow you down. And she does slow you down, but you would never tell her that. She knows it anyway, says it herself. You always deny it, and what you say is true. You couldn't ask for a better distraction.

So when you stumbled across this town you accepted the help even though your instincts were screaming at you to run in the opposite direction. It was a hard decision—the life you are familiar and comfortable with or the woman you love (love? Where did that word come from anyway? But you can't deny it.)

And she is making it harder every day you stay in this godforsaken town. You can see her settling in, getting comfortable. You suppose you can't blame her. After all you know she is a family and community oriented person, and this is the first time she has experienced that in a long time. You feel a small pang of jealousy as the thought runs through your mind, but you shake it off as quickly as it comes. You know she loves you (there's that word cropping up again), but living in the woods and changing shelters every day isn't exactly the ideal form of community. It's different here and you both know it. You just accept it (or don't) in different ways.

You sigh quietly. You know you're going to have to talk to her about this eventually as much as you don't want to. She is still weak, but the medicines they're giving her here are taking effect in a wonderful way. You no longer have to worry about her slipping away in the middle of the night, no longer have to stay awake yourself watching her chest rise and fall as she draws shallow, raspy breaths. You're not sure she would be ready to travel just yet, but you still need to broach the subject.

Your thoughts are cut off by a stirring in the bed. You listen to her shift around, thinking that she might just go back to sleep. But she doesn't, and in a moment you hear your name called out in a panicked voice. You're at her side in an instant, and you can tell from the way she clings to you that she thought you had left. You know she must be able to sense how antsy you are, and it's making her nervous in return. You feel a little guilty. Here she is trying to recover from her illness and you're making her uncomfortable. But you can't help how you feel any more than she can.

You stroke her hair and reassure her that you're here and you're not going anywhere. Not without her, but you don't tell her that part because you know that she isn't keen on leaving the town. You touch her forehead and let your hand travel around to rest on the back of her neck, reveling in the feeling of her cool skin. The fever is gone, and you could almost cry in relief. You don't think she will ever know how much her illness frightened you.

Her skin is cool, but her breath is hot against your collarbone and it makes goosebumps appear all over your body. Before you can prevent it, a shiver travels through your body. You hope that maybe she missed it, but when you feel her smirk against your neck you know she didn't. She wraps her arms around your neck and gently uses her own weight to pull you backwards onto the mattress with her.

You hover over her, not wanting to press your entire body weight on her. You know she can take it, but she is still recovering. She has always chastised you about how you treat her like she's a porcelain doll. You both know she isn't fragile, but you care for her so much it makes you extra careful by instinct.

Your hand plays with the pajamas they have given her here. You don't like the feeling of the fabric on her. It makes her seem like a citizen, which you've already decided you don't like. When you voice this opinion to her, she comes back with a retort that makes you flush so badly you're sure she can feel the heat radiating off you face.

'You could always take them off.'

You can barely make out her expression in the dim light that is coming from the window. That same smirk is back on her face, but there is something deeper than just teasing going on here. She needs you. You've scared her with your muttered comments about the town and the people and now she is afraid you're going to leave her in the middle of the night without saying anything.

Your insides squirm with guilt so badly that you groan out loud and drop your head into the crook of her neck. You've really gotten yourself into a mess here, and for a moment you come the closest you've ever been in the past eight months to regretting having ever met her. You would never really regret it of course, but when things get this complicated you begin to think of the days when you were on your own and things just seemed easier.

But then she is kissing your ear and down the side of your neck and all thoughts of being on your own have fled your mind. You could never truly regret finding her and getting to know (and maybe love) her.

Soon the horrible pajamas are forgotten on the floor just as you would like to forget that this town ever existed. Her long legs wrap around your hips, and in the dark you almost can't tell how different your skin is from hers. You're a little disappointed by this because the contrast of your skin against hers is something that has fascinated you from day one. You're distracted, however, by the feeling of her fingers finding their way to the buckle on your belt and tugging it loose.

You try to be as quiet as possible. It's weird enough in this town without the entire place knowing what you do in the middle of the night. You don't even know what's happening between the two of you yet, and until you know no one else is allowed to know either. When she moans you cover her mouth with yours, and as she comes down from her high you whisper things in her ear just as you've always done when she wakes up restless in the middle of the night.

Sometimes you think you talk the most in the night.

She sleeps more soundly now that you're in the bed with her and she is nuzzled into you. The pajamas have stayed on the floor as you think they rightly should. You secretly love the feeling of her bare skin against yours, and though you can't really sleep in this town you don't miss your place on the windowsill. If you must have a tendency toward insomnia, there is no better place to have it than here, curled up in the arms of the woman you love.

Yes, you've decided. Love.

The next morning she agrees to leave with you without you even having to say a word to her. She is still naked, with the covers pulled up to her chin. She isn't looking at you when she says it.

She is looking at the pajamas on the floor.


The third time it happens neither of you have an excuse. You're both completely sober and neither of you is recovering from being on your deathbed. You're safe, or as safe as you've been in a long time. And she is sitting on cloud nine.

When you looked at the map and chose the nearby prison as a possible shelter the most you were expecting to deal with was clearing out walkers. What you were not expecting was to suddenly have half a dozen guns in your face. And even more strange than that was your blonde companion letting out a ecstatic yell of recognition and flinging herself into the arms of the nearest gunman, a woebegone looking middle aged man.

To you the reunion is a whirl of strange faces and names you won't remember. You're introduced over and over again, and you would find yourself a little jealous if it weren't for the fact that no matter how many hugs she doles out she always ends up back at your side. Still, you feel like an outsider and it makes you uncomfortable. You see the man who acts as the leader of the group eyeing you suspiciously, especially as he watches your companion thread her fingers through yours as you sit down to eat with the group. Despite your unease however, you have no sense of immediate danger like you did back in the town, and your companion certainly seems perfectly at ease. Not that you generally trust her instinct per se, but this is the group of survivors she spent her time with when the world first went to shit. She and her sister both. So if it weren't for these people, you would have never met her.

You give the man a curt nod as he passes you a ration of food, and he nods back. Though he doesn't know the full scope of what he has done for you in the long run, a little of the unease leaves his expression, and you allow yourself to relax a little as well.

After dinner everyone sits around and exchanges stories of what happened after the group was split up. You remain silent—this is her story to tell, not yours. Not that you would tell it anyway. She sheds tears for people you never even knew, but have heard enough from her that you feel as though you could have known them. There are more tears when the baby is passed into her arms, and even you allow your walls to come down enough to stroke a finger down a tiny, soft cheek. When your companion's eyes meet yours there is a certain warmth and wonder in their expression that causes something deep and unfamiliar to stir within you. You withdraw your hand and look down at your lap, suddenly hyper aware of the group staring at the two of you.

She breaks the awkward moment by launching into her own tale of what happened after the herd attacked the farm and how you saved her in the forest. She presents you as more of a hero than you feel you are, and you notice that she strategically leaves certain parts of your adventure out and you're secretly very grateful. She does alert the leader to the presence of the town not so far away, and he thanks her for the warning. Even though they appeared to have everything they needed, a stronghold such as a prison could be very tempting and it would be best if the town never found out about their presence. You smile inwardly to hear of her speaking of the town as a threat. You're glad to hear that she doesn't regret leaving and that she has finally acknowledged the danger of such a place.

When the conversation winds down and the children begin to yawn, the leader asks you how you would like to be accommodated She speaks before you can even open your mouth and says that you want to bunk together. You feel your cheeks flush but you don't think she even realizes the importance of the information she has just given to him. He catches your eye and despite the flush that still covers your cheeks you refuse to break eye contact. After a moment he gives you another nod and leads the two of you to an empty cell.

As soon as he leaves she is on you, kissing your face and whispering breathlessly about how happy she is, how wonderful it is that the two of you made it here. She talks as though you somehow knew her former group was staying here. As though you performed some kind of magic in bringing the two of you here, in reuniting her with the people she missed so much. Slowly the energy in the room changes from one of excitement to one of uncertainty. She stops kissing you and regards you through half-closed eyes.

'I love you.'

The words slip out of her mouth and you feel your heart stop. Her eyes get wide at the realization of what she just said. But before she can freak out or back out you lean in and kiss her back, slowly, sweetly.

'I love you too.'

It's what you've been struggling with for months and now it's in the open. You don't regret it at all, and you hope she doesn't either. But judging from the intensity with which she is now kissing you back you don't think she does.

The bed is not comfortable, being a prison bed, but neither of you are paying any attention to that now. All you can think about is the feeling of her pressed against you, not drunk and not feverish, but completely well and whole. There are no excuses to be made, no illnesses raging through either of your bodies and yet she still wants you. She wants you, just as you've been wanting her all this time.

She is kissing you like she wants every touch to mean the world, and you are returning her touches with the same intention. Your hands find their way to the hem of her shirt and you pause, looking her straight in the eye as though you're asking her permission. It seems almost silly because you have already been in this place twice. But the other two instances were different. This time is real, genuine, and you want to be sure that this is what she wants.

The look in her eyes tells you everything you need to know. There is lust, yes, but there is also something shining in her eyes that you haven't seen on her in a long time. She looks happy, blissful even, and you can't help but smile back at her. The feeling is contagious and before either of you can move she starts laughing. You're confused for a moment, wondering what's so funny, but then she hugs you with such a force that you fall back onto the concrete slab masquerading as a bed.

Your head hits the wall with a resounding thump, and she lets out a small, worried noise and places her hand on the back of your head. When she confirms that you're alright and won't suffer a concussion, she begins laughing again. You use your new position to pull her down on top of you and resume your kissing. You don't want her to wake the rest of the cell block with her laughter, as much as you love the way it sounds.

Your hand returns to the hem of her shirt and this time you successfully get it off over her head, only breaking contact long enough for the material to slip between you. She mimics your actions and you shiver at the feeling of the cold air in the cell block against your skin.

After a few minutes the kisses you share get slower and deeper. Some of her euphoria has faded until all you see in her eyes is love. She moves against you with such an intensity that it seems like you're going to fall into each other until you're one person. Piece by piece the rest of your clothes disappear until you're skin against skin and you've forgotten about the cold air that surrounds you.

You hiss when she moves her hips against you, causing a surprising amount of friction and heat even though she is barely touching you. She pushes herself up so she can look down at you, and you're momentarily stunned by how gorgeous she looks. Her blonde hair is mussed (sex hair, you think to yourself with a secret smirk), and there's a flush across her cheeks that won't seem to fade. You're so wrapped up in staring up at her that you almost miss the fact that she is looking at you with the exact same expression. She touches your face, tracing the line of your jaw and allowing her hand to trail down between your breasts and down your stomach. It's not hard to predict where she is headed, and you catch her hand in your own just as she passes your bellybutton. You lace your fingers together just as she did at dinner and admire that contrast you love so much.

Her eyes follow yours and when you see her brow furrow you know that she is seeing the same thing you are seeing. You compliment each other like coffee and cream and that smile appears on her face again.

'Coffee and cream.'

You whisper, leaning up on your elbows so your breath can tickle her ear. She shivers.

'When did you become romantic?'

Instead of answering her joking question you pull her back down with you, your lips finding hers once again. This time you don't stop her hand, and when she enters you (, two, three fingers...) you know that you're in this for the long haul. There's no way you're letting this woman get away from you. Not after you've already come so close far too many times.

You move together, coffee and cream, chocolate and vanilla, a black and white photograph. When she falls over the edge you kiss her moans away. She always seems to be faster than you, maybe because she is so much more high strung than you. But she continues to move with you and soon you're joining her and this is the first time it feels real. Really real. Because you're both really there, and neither of you attributes it to anything but the way you feel for one another.

She remains on top of you, catching her breath. You put your arms around her and pull her even closer, pressing your face into her hair and closing your eyes. You feel her move, and she pulls a scratchy blanket over the both of you. She presses her face into your shoulder, and when you feel something wet you realize that she is crying. You tilt her face up to yours and mimic your motions from just a few minutes ago, this time kissing her tears away. She smiles at you, and her eyes are so bright you realize that she is truly happy even as the tears still fall. You shed a few of your own, something you would have never done before meeting her. You shake your head, allowing a small chuckle to escape.

'What have you done to me?'

She positively beams at the statement and adjusts, finding a position curled into you that is so familiar from cold nights spent in the woods. Soon her breathing evens out and you know she is asleep. You stay awake for just a little longer, listening to her breaths that are now so blissfully clear of illness. Soon, you too are drifting off, more comfortable than you have been in a long time.

'Yes,' you think, just before sleep takes over. 'This woman isn't going anywhere.'