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rumour has it

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Jessica thinks that this, possibly, is what dying feels like. She thought actually almost dying in a car crash was bad, but now she's in a dress and heels and drinking champagne while she watches Trish flirt politely with some meathead, and it's the worst. Trish laughs at something, a musical noise that makes Jess frown, and then the guy steps into Trish's space. Jessica squeezes the stem of her champagne glass and it snaps easily beneath her grip. Trish's back goes rigid and Jess finds herself moving across the room before she can even think.

This is a bad idea, she tells herself, but she doesn’t stop. The guy is so close to Trish, this smile on his face like he’s trying to seal a deal, and even though Jess can’t see Trish’s face, her body is so stiff Jess can almost see her shoulders tremble from the effort of keeping her muscles locked up. It’s the first warning sign that Trish’s anxiety is getting the best of her, and maybe it’s not the cry of help Trish told her to wait for, but it’s close enough. This needs to stop, now, before Trish has a full blown panic attack in the middle of a room of her peers.

(Trish hasn’t had a panic attack since they moved out of Dorothy’s house. But the threat is always there like a shadow that even direct sunlight can’t chase away. Jessica quietly does her best to keep the light shining, even when it gets hard. She’s almost always faster than the fear.)

She could punch him. It would be the easiest, quickest way to get him out of Trish’s face. She calculates how hard she could hit without breaking anything…important. But she remembers that there’s press everywhere and the last thing Trish needs is another scandal…So the next best thing is...

Well. A scandal, but of a more interesting sort.

“Hey babe,” Jess says softly, surprised by the calm of her own voice. She moves in close enough and touches Trish’s hip softly, like asking for permission. Trish’s shoulders lower a fraction, enough of an ‘okay’ for Jess to slide her hand across the small of Trish’s back and rest her palm on Trish’s other side. It’s such a forcefully casual motion, her hand resting there, her forearm curved against the top of Trish’s ass. Trish’s reflex is to do the same, like they’ve done it a thousand times, her arm slipping around Jess’s waist. They fit together, they always have, and Jessica feels stronger at the contact. Her whole body is tingling with electricity, coiled up energy, and her mind races to calculate variables of how this could go wrong—how many different ways she can punch this asshole for whatever he might say—but she's never been good with math or logic. She’s just good at punching things and saving Trish.


“Problem?” Jessica widens her eyes at Trish before turning the fakest, most dangerous smile she can on the guy. He must not understand the threat in her eyes because he just offers a lopsided grin.

“Nah, we were just talkin’. Right, Patsy?” The guy raises his brows, as if to insinuate something else, and Jessica feels Trish’s spine straighten again. Jess hates that there are people that do this to Trish, that she’s so liquid around Jess but turns to steel around others.

“Well,” Trish starts, her voice thick with tension. Jessica clears her throat and Trish looks over at her. They have this whole conversation in a series of glances, in just seconds, and Trish just nods her head before shifting her body a little further into Jess’s side.

“Listen, bud, I was gonna be nice but...How about you back off my date?” It’s not specifically untrue; she did escort Trish to this thing.

“Your…” the guy’s gaze travels between them, down to where Jessica’s hand sits on Trish’s hip, and he gets this weird look on his face, like he can’t decide if it’s hot or gross.

“Date,” Trish says, simply, squeezing Jess’s waist softly. Jessica flexes her fingers against Trish’s hip in return, call and response reassurances that everything is fine. The guy blanches.

“I didn’t realise you were a lesbo,” he curls his lip and Jessica really thinks it’s about time to start punching things. Trish’s hand on her hip flexes again and she takes a steadying breath. The guy just scoffs before pushing past them and heading in what Jessica assumes is the direction of the bar.

She kind of wants to be there, herself.

But then she feels Trish relax against her and she knows this is definitely where she’s supposed to be.

“Thank you,” Trish sighs, and Jessica looks over at her and shrugs.

“You’d do the same for me.”

“True,” Trish laughs, that easy calm returning to her face. “I’m not nearly as intimidating as you, though.”

“You’re right about that,” Jess snorts and nudges her gently with her hip before stepping away.

“About what he said—" Trish starts, biting her lip.

“He’s, what, some dumb actor?”

“He plays for the Yankees,” Trish says evenly.

“I think we can ignore him, because he’s clearly an even bigger asshole than I realised.”  Jess wrinkles her nose, breezing past the topic. “I’m not letting you mingle alone, though. Just in case he gets any ideas that I made that up.”

“How romantic,” Trish rolls her eyes and then flicks her gaze up and down Jessica’s form. She did this two hours earlier, but then it was about the dress and her shoes and the fall of her hair, all Trish’s doing. This is different, more appraising, almost like she’s sizing Jessica up as a potential…whatever, and Jess scoffs at the scrutiny. She holds her arm out for Trish to take and Trish sighs, “fine,” and slips her arm through Jess’s. “The Hogarths are around here somewhere. I think you’d like Jeri.”

Jess thinks Jeri Hogarth is a bitch, and murmurs as much in Trish’s ear as the other couple exchanges pleasantries with an old man in a smoking jacket. It must look…intimate, because when they turn their attention back to the couple, Jeri has this smirk on her face and her wife, Wendy, looks way too happy for someone not completely tanked.

Jess opens her mouth to say something, but Wendy just waves her hand.

“We’ll see you later, yeah?”

“Sure,” Trish says brightly, a smile that Jess recognises as genuine on her face.

The Hogarths melt into a dozen other people and Jess realises she has no idea what the benefit is actually for. A charity, of course, but for what…she can’t remember. Trish is like one of those honey-filled fly traps, good-looking men and women buzzing around her the entire time, but Jess sticks close. It’s more than normal, usually she hangs out by the bar, drinks copious amounts of free booze, and tries not to break anything.

Sticking close to Trish comes with a slew of natural behaviours she doesn’t try to stop, like touching Trish’s elbow to get her attention, or leaning in to whisper mean things in her ear, things that make her laugh and blush.

After the third “you two are so lovely together”, Jess starts to work it through her thick skull that it’s not just the meathead who thinks they’re, well, an item. Trish always demurs with a polite “thank you” and some kind of vague compliment in return, her thumb rubbing Jess’s bicep tenderly.

She can’t even tell if Trish is acting, at this point.

Jess wakes up to an insistent tapping noise really close to her head. It takes her a drowsy moment to realise she’s in Trish’s room, and when she rolls over to find Trish sitting up with her laptop out, her knee jerk response is: “so was I good?”

“What?” Trish raises her brows, looking away from whatever’s open on her computer.

“In bed,” Jess says, voice too rough to be properly sarcastic.

“You hogged the covers and snored,” Trish scoffs, turning her attention back to the screen. “We’re on all of the gossip websites, by the way.”

“Huh?” Jessica hauls herself upright and pushes her back against Trish’s headboard. Her mind is foggy, she can’t remember a whole lot from the end of last night, and she woke up in Trish’s bed. All of this usually means she drank a lot.

“Here,” Trish turns the screen so Jessica can look. A headline reads It’s Lezzy! Teen star-turned talk show host finally out of the closet!

“Lezzy isn’t even a good play on Patsy,” Jessica says, frowning, but then Trish hits the down button and the page scrolls to a collection of pictures. The first one is a particularly attractive photo of them from the red carpet, Jess’s hand light on the small of Trish’s back while she smiles and poses for the cameras. Jessica is smiling, too, which is funny; she doesn’t remember smiling at all. The next pictures are a series of warmer images from inside the benefit—candids, Jessica thinks. She vaguely recognises the people they’re talking to in a couple of the shots, important rich types whose names meant nothing to her. She looks completely disengaged in most of the pictures, just lingering at Trish’s side, a little closer than maybe is normal.

How that makes Trish a lesbian…

But then…there’s this one where Jessica’s touching Trish’s hip and leaning in to whisper something in her ear. The colour is high on Trish’s cheeks and her own lips are curled in what Jessica knows is a grimace, but almost looks like a predatory smile from this angle. She recognises the Hogarths in the background, the camera man caught them at the exact moment surprise filtered over their features, and she realises she’s seeing her and Trish in the same way everyone else saw them last night.

“Apparently we’re girlfriends.” Trish offers when Jessica just looks at her.

“Like, in the lesbian way?”

“I would argue that we’re both bisexual,” Trish says lightly and Jess snorts in response. “But yes, Ryan—”

“That’s the Yankee meathead?”

“Mm. He apparently told a photographer that ‘Patsy Walker is a lesbian’ and they paid extra special attention to us during the evening.”

“Nice,” Jess yawns. “Was I a good date, at least?”

“Hm,” Trish tilts her head, tapping the down key on her computer a few times before quietly shutting the lid. “Yes and no. But you kept Ryan and any other nosy potentials away from me, so I think that outweighs anything else.”

Jess just grunts and shoves the covers off of her legs, thinking about coffee more than the fact that all of the world thinks Trish Walker is a lesbian. She looks down and her legs are bare. Which, it’s not the first time, but it’s definitely worth noting since they’ve apparently upgraded their relationship status. “I don’t have pants on,” Jessica says flatly. “We didn’t…”

“No,” Trish laughs. “But you’ve got a shirt on, which is more than I can say for the whiskey-shots-and-champagne-chasers Jessica I brought home with me after the benefit.”

“Ugh,” Jess moans, pinches the bridge of her nose. “Please tell me I didn’t break anything. Or ruin your career.”

“Nothing broken or ruined aside from a few champagne glasses, thankfully. The paparazzi left with the mayor.” Trish purses her lips and says, “you’d be a shitty girlfriend—”

“Hey, fuck you,” Jessica scoffs. “I would make a great girlfriend.”

But, I’d still date you,” Trish says simply, slipping out of bed.

“I—wait,” Jess blinks owlishly, swinging her legs over the side of the bed so she can get out too.

“Stay, I’ll bring you breakfast. You forgot to eat last night.”

“That’s because you’re the one who’d make a shitty girlfriend,” she grumbles, not meaning it, before shifting herself back onto the bed completely.

“No, I wouldn’t,” Trish says, smiling before she disappears out of the bedroom.

Jessica sighs and lets her head fall back against the headboard. Trish is right about that, at least, she'd make a wonderful girlfriend.