Slashes of gold fan across the room as early morning light filters through the window blinds. Specks of dust float in the air, appearing and disappearing as they move through the angles of light. Raelle watches it all idly from her position on the bed, stretched out on her back, one arm wrapped around Scylla’s body where it curls into her own.
Scylla’s head rests on her shoulder, and Raelle takes advantage of the position, threading her fingers through dark, soft hair. She enjoys the occasional quiet breaths of appreciation Scylla lets out.
Her movements pause when Scylla starts up a gentle rhythmic tap with her finger tips against Raelle’s abdomen. It takes her a moment to realize the tapping is in time with her own heartbeat. She wonders if Scylla, with her ear pressed in close to Raelle’s chest, catches the way her heart skips at the realization. Her own fingers resume their movements, drawing a quiet sigh in return.
They should be getting up, Raelle knows. They have a mission to execute on today, if it can be called that. A faction of the Camarilla are vulnerable, and a blow now could hinder their operations long term. It could set off a chain that finally puts an end to this bloody, unrelenting war. Yet all Raelle cares about is prolonging the precious few minutes alone she has with the girl in arms.
Something heavy and thick and steady moves through her chest at the realization. She hasn’t been able to verbalize it since they found their way back to each other, still can’t find the right words even now, but she thinks Scylla knows. Goddess, she hopes she knows. She picks up a small amount of hair between her fingertips and lets it fall again before she resumes her threaded path.
“What are you thinking about?” The rasp of Scylla’s voice from lying in silence most of the morning sets off a flutter in Raelle’s chest. She peaks up at Raelle from her position, her impossibly blue eyes soft in question.
Raelle gives her a lazy, lopsided smile. “Thinking ‘bout how comfortable I am right now. And that I really don’t want to get out of this bed.” She finishes on a sigh. It isn’t a lie. Part of what runs through Raelle’s head is just that, only, it’s a minuscule snapshot of the bigger picture.
Scylla might know that, given the way she holds her gaze for several beats searching for something. Finally Scylla gives her a small smile back before returning her head to its position, her fingers abandoning their tapping routine in favor of rubbing a small circle against the cotton of Raelle’s t-shirt.
Raelle breathes into the idea of wanting this forever. The lazy mornings together after nights wrapped up in each other. The push and pull of their connection. All of it. She wants it more than anything, she just doesn’t seem to know how to say it.
It’s a strange feeling, this lack of ability to speak her mind. For so long it was Scylla who struggled to speak of her feelings fully, yet now Raelle doesn’t seem able to find the words. It feels as if it all might slip through her fingers if she speaks the truth of what she wants. Not to mention, she’s far too aware that these very moments could disappear as tenuously as they came. The agreement to let Scylla stay on base, to involve her in the war from the inside, was fragile amongst the people with authority to dole out orders.
Yet Raelle is desperate to push past the unknowns and the frailness of it all. Things feel different now. No, Raelle knows they’re different now. Scylla opened up every corner of herself to Raelle, laid bare the darkest most painful truths, and it’s clear she would do it all over again if asked.
Raelle would offer the same if Scylla asked it of her. But after everything they’ve been through, it’s clear Scylla doesn’t think she has the right to ask. Raelle really needs to rectify that. Because the way she irrevocably belongs to Scylla, and Scylla to her, is the most simple, complicated truth of her life.
Her eyes locate the clock, noting how quickly they’re running out of time. They have to get ready, Raelle needs time to redo her braids. Her fingers thread through Scylla’s hair again, in direct defiance to what her head is telling her. Her eyes drop to the action, watching her own fingertips disappear momentarily into Scylla’s tresses. She pauses in her movements as a thought creeps up on her. Her breath stutters in her chest as the idea fully forms, her fingers becoming more deliberate in their movements.
Scylla must sense the change, because she fully pushes herself up onto an arm to look down at Raelle. “You okay?”
Raelle nods, then reminds herself to actually speak. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m good. I’m just–“ She pauses, taking a strand of Scylla’s hair between her fingers. “There’s something I want to do– something that would mean a lot to me. I know it’s weird, and if you don’t want to, it’s fine, but with the plans today, and everything being up in the air, it just feels important.” She gets out in a jumbled mess. She averts her eyes from Scylla as heat creeps along her cheeks.
“Raelle.” Scylla’s voice is so gentle as she presses her fingertips to her jaw to turn her gaze back. Raelle can’t help but swallow in reaction to the depth of emotion she finds in Scylla’s eyes. “If it’s important to you, it’s important to me. Whatever it is, whatever you need, I’m in. Okay?”
Raelle nods, feeling the prick of tears behind her eyes at Scylla echoing a version of her words from a time before. “Okay.” She says quietly.
If Raelle wasn’t already sure she was forever deeply in love with Scylla, she certainly would be now.
The way Scylla strides into the meeting in the war room, head held high and proud, makes it inevitable that everyone in the room notices the change immediately.
Raelle doesn’t miss the way Abigail’s eyebrows draw down as she takes Scylla in, nor does she miss the words Abigail mouths silently, “What the hell?”
Tally thankfully just gives a soft smile when she notices the change.
Anacostia narrows her eyes, flitting her attention back and forth between the two of them until Alder finally calls the room to attention. Alder’s jaw tightens ever so subtly when her eyes sweep over Scylla, but Raelle thinks that would happen regardless of the current situation. She’s thankful for the forced impetus to move on from the obvious conversation.
It was her idea to weave the four braids into one side of Scylla’s hair. She felt the overwhelming urge to mark Scylla as hers for the world to see, despite her inability to verbalize it. She thinks Scylla knows that, too, given the way she agreed to it without asking for an explanation or attempting to make conversation about it. It means as much to Scylla as it does to Raelle, that much was clear in her eyes when she looked in the mirror after Raelle finished.
Scylla gives Raelle one of her small reassuring smiles to bring her back to the moment. Raelle returns it before turning her attention to what Alder is telling them.
Once the details are hashed out, then hashed out again in minute detail, Alder calls for them to fall out. Raelle doesn’t love that she and Scylla are taking off in opposite directions to carry out very different components of the plan, but she knows she needs to trust herself and to trust Scylla. They’ll make it back to each other, they always have.
The high ranking members are already halfway to the door by the time Abigail scoffs out loud. “Is no one going to talk about this?” She points at Scylla’s head. “Like, at least mention it?”
Anacostia spares them a glance over her shoulder, but she doesn’t stop moving, and Raelle catches the way she’s shaking her head as she exits the room.
“What? My face?” Scylla drawls out lazily, raising her eyebrows in that specific way that makes Abigail want to punch her and Raelle want to kiss her senseless.
Abigail opens her mouth but no sound comes out. For once she doesn’t seem to know what to retort.
Tally reaches out to link her arm through Abigail’s, pulling her towards the door. “Let’s not start a scene, Abigail. Time to get suited up.” Raelle is relieved for her interference.
“It looks great.” Tally whispers with a grin on her face and a twinkle in her eye as she passes by them.
Raelle stifles a laugh. It doesn’t feel half bad to have a light moment before going into battle. She watches the way Scylla’s eyes track Abigail and Tally until they’re out of the room.
“Well that went well.” Scylla says dryly. “I have to admit, I really enjoyed having Abigail speechless for a moment.”
Raelle lets this laugh come out uninhibited. “Yeah, well, enjoy it. Can’t imagine it will happen more than once in a lifetime.
“True.” Scylla sighs out, but there’s the ghost of a smile flitting around the corners of her lips. Raelle lays a hand on Scylla’s shoulder, sliding it slowly to the back of her neck, stepping in closer as she does it. “Thank you for doing this. Please stay safe today.” She lowers her forehead to Scylla’s, willing the words and everything she means by them to sink in fully.
Scylla closes her eyes briefly, letting herself lean into the gravity of their bodies. Finally, she tilts her chin upwards capturing Raelle’s lips in a kiss that makes her heart ache. Scylla manages to stop the kiss before it can truly ignite, though part of Raelle wishes she hadn’t. “We should probably go.” She whispers, eyes locked onto Raelle’s.
“Yeah.” Raelle whispers back. But her feet don’t move. They can’t. She’s too focused on the words she can read so clearly in Scylla’s eyes. It seems purposeful, the way their depths so unabashedly convey her love for Raelle.
Finally Scylla gives her a small smile, hands squeezing gently at the back of Raelle’s neck before she steps away. She inclines her head towards the door. “I’m gonna…” She trails off, taking another step towards the door.
“I love you.” Raelle says it like it’s the easiest truth in the world, because it is. The words have been trapped in her chest for weeks now, beating against her ribcage like a steady rhythm, but now she feels like she can finally breathe free again.
She watches Scylla’s reaction play out silently across her face, every beautiful feature registering the words. “I know.” She says it so surely, in the steadiest voice she’s ever used.
Raelle feels everything slow down to this singular point in time. She’s never been so certain of anything in her life than the love she feels right now. “Yeah?” She asks, voice quiet as she desperately attempts to hang on to this moment for a few seconds more.
Scylla nods once, her eyes again telling Raelle the words before her mouth speaks them. “I love you, too. But you already know that.” She says, the wry twist to her lips back.
“Yeah, I do.” She closes the few steps between them, aware that they’re already well past their borrowed time. She reaches out her hand to run her fingers lightly along the braids adorning the side of Scylla’s head. “But I’m going to need to hear you say it a million more times. You keep that in mind out there today, okay?”
“Yes Ma’am.” Scylla tells her, with a combination of sass and unadulterated love that only she can pull off.
Scylla takes a few steps backward, eyes locked on Raelle’s long enough to be sure she’s going to let her make her exit this time. When Raelle gives her a small, reassuring smile Scylla finally turns on her heel and strides out of the room.
It’s 3:27 in the morning when Raelle gently undoes the braids from Scylla’s hair. A necessity after the way they came together in Scylla’s room in an announcement to the universe and each other that they survived the day.
Scylla sighs out sleepily once her hair is free, pulling the blankets up around their bodies more securely as she settles in. “Thank you.” She mumbles, pressing a lazy kiss into Raelle’s skin.
“For what?” Raelle presses her own kiss to the top of Scylla’s head.
“Being you. Loving me. Just, all of it.” The last part of her words are slurred, her breath starting to even out.
“Thank you for letting me love you.” Raelle whispers, beginning her own descent into sleep with her fingers still stroking through Scylla’s hair.