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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.


Chapter Text

Trish’s phone has been on silent all night because she wanted to sleep in. When she wakes up, on her own for once, she’s totally shocked to find dozens of messages and missed calls from various people on her management team. A text from her manager comes through as she’s still trying to blink the sleep away, so she opens that first.

I’m coming over if you don’t respond.

So she responds, simply, I just woke up, give me a sec.

(She’s glad she’s awake because the last thing she needs is to have her manager barge in and find Jessica half-naked in her bed.)

Her manager replies with have you not seen the gossip yet? and she can practically hear the woman’s exasperated tone in the text.

So she pulls her laptop out and Googles herself, which isn’t something she ever likes doing. Most of the articles that pop up on the first page are ones jumping to the wildest conclusions about what happened at the benefit. PerezHilton has drawn ‘That’s right! I like girls!’ onto a picture of her laughing. Someone named UNICORNFARTS on ONTD makes a post titled ‘Who’s not straight? It’s Patsy!’ Most of the other gossip sites have some version of the same; a terrible tagline about her being gay, speculation about Jessica’s identity, and then a slew of out-of-context pictures of the two of them touching.

It’s not a scandal but, damn, it’s as close as she’s gotten in years.

After telling Jess about their newfound internet celebrity, Trish leaves her to work through the start of her hangover and heads to the kitchen to make breakfast. She’s not hungry, really, with all that nervous energy about the phone calls and texts waiting to be answered, but she forces herself to eat a protein bar while the coffee perks.

Normally Trish would never let Jessica eat food in her bed, but this morning she looks so pathetic and hungover, Trish decides there are worse things than a few crumbs in her sheets. She hands Jessica three cinnamon Eggos on a plate and a cup of strong black coffee while she’s sitting against the headboard. Jess gives her this pityingly grateful look before setting the coffee down on the bedside table.

“Just, please, don’t spill the coffee.”

“You can trust me,” Jessica says as she tears into a waffle, scattering crumbs over the blanket covering her lap. She cringes, and amends, “I’ll be careful.”

“I’m going to get ready,” Trish sighs. “I’ve got um,” she throws her hands up, “damage control, or something.”

“Damage,” Jess rolls her eyes, takes another bite, “lemme know if you need me to punch anyone.”

“Thanks,” Trish chuckles, grabs her phone from the nightstand, and heads into the bathroom.

In the bathroom she has the courage to read the rest of her texts. They’re mostly benign, the girls who do her hair and makeup for events both text their support, and Zack links her to articles at Autostraddle and AfterEllen, two alerts she didn’t get to check before Jessica woke up. He says they’re “for when the haters get to you”, so Trish saves them for later.

There are also 24 missed phone calls and ten voicemails from her mother.

Dread slithers through her veins like a sickness and for the first time in ages she itches for… for a drink.

She knows, logically, she should focus on the more important things, like calling her manager or talking to someone who doesn’t make her feel like a broken, fat addict first. But, sometimes she’s a masochist, so she pulls up her missed calls and hovers her thumb over her mother’s name for just a moment before she taps down.

The line barely even rings before her mother picks up and snaps, “Patricia Walker, what on Earth—”

“Mom,” Trish sighs, there’s some garbled chatter in the background, her mother shouting at someone, probably her assistant. She feels bad for the person, who probably wasn’t thinking about working on a Saturday. “Dorothy!”

“What?” Her mother snaps.

“It’s fine. I’m handling it.”

“It is not fine, Patricia. You need to jump on this before the press goes wild. Right now it’s just a nasty little internet rumour, we can nip it in the bud before it gains traction in print.”

“What makes you think it was a rumour?” The line goes deadly quiet and, maybe in the past, Trish would already be rifling through her drawers for a bottle of pills—Xanax or Valium or something—but somehow this time she feels stronger in the silence.

“Wh—” her mother splutters, Trish imagines her face turning as red as a beet. “Of course it’s a rumour Patsy you’re not—not...some kind of a—”

“Lesbian?” Trish offers lightly. Her mother makes some sort of strangled noise on the other end of the line and Trish smiles. “I have to go, mom, I just wanted you to stop calling me.”

“But Patricia—”

Hanging up on her mother has never felt so satisfying.

First, she has a private one-on-one with her manager, who is way more chill than she expected her to be. Then there’s an exhausting three-way phone call between her manager and the two PR reps she’s been working with since her pre-rehab days. They give her a good run down of her options, and she promises to call them back later with her decision.

Then she takes the world’s longest and hottest shower.

When Trish finally emerges from the bathroom she feels… well, her head is clearer.

She wants so badly to beg Jessica to keep up the charade, to really stick it to her mom, but it’s not just her own life she has to consider. Jessica probably wants to actually date someone eventually.

Jessica is still pantless, but now sprawled across Trish’s bed with her feet propped up on the pillows and Trish’s laptop opened. The empty coffee cup and plate are nowhere to be seen and Trish would normally tease Jessica about doing the dishes but right now it just makes her feel affectionate.

“According to L Chat we’re hot and sweet,” Jess says as Trish approaches the bed.

“What the hell is L Chat?”

“It’s...this website where gay girls talk about other gay girls?”

“What, like a gossip forum?” Trish sits down on the edge of the bed and nudges Jess so she’ll scoot over. Jess complies, doesn’t even complain, and Trish tucks her legs up onto the bed, one knee propped up against Jess’s side.

“I guess,” Jess turns the computer so Trish can look at a forum page in greys and pinks. “We’re the new it couple. You have your own forum topic with like, fifty-three pages already. Two girls are claiming they’re writing smut about us. There are like, forty-five posts speculating on my name. Apparently I look like an Erin or a Vivian.”

Smut?” Trish raises her brows and Jess turns to look at her, grinning.

“You would latch onto that detail.”

“How could I not?” Trish wrinkles her nose. “Please don’t read it, Jess.”

“I’m not making any promises,” Jess shrugs and turns back to the computer, “AfterEllen wrote an article about how you’re so progressive for not making a huge public statement. Which sounded kind of bitchy, but maybe that’s just me.”

“About that…” Trish exhales slowly, tightens her grip on her phone, and looks down at her lap. “I’ve talked with my team and they’ve given me a few options…most of them involve me telling the truth, that we’re just best friends and roommates.” Jessica nods, doesn’t look away from the computer. “But…I don’t know, there’s this option...what if we just run with it, Jessica?”

“What?” Jess laughs, rolling onto her side and propping her head up on her fist. “Pretend to be actually dating?”

“Sure,” Trish says, biting her bottom lip.

“Your mom would freak.”

“That’s the point,” Trish grins and Jess’s whole face lights up at the thought.

They come to an agreement, of sorts, Trish and Jess and her team. It goes:

Trish’s PR team won’t make any kind of statement. No confirmation, but no denial. Her manager will dodge any direct questions by declining to comment on his client’s personal life. Trish won’t say anything on her show. And Jess will. Well, she’ll continue to be Jess.

They’ll let the media and the public speculate for a while and it by ear from there.

Jess is game, she’s always game, and Trish feels a little flutter of affection every time Jess teasingly draws out the words ‘your girlfriend’ every time Trish says ‘partner’ or ‘Jessica’.

They spend a while just lying in Trish’s bed. Jessica reads Trish the nice articles on AfterEllen and Autostraddle because, honestly, Trish is feeling a little overwhelmed and needs something good to focus on. Once they’re tired of all the drama, they turn on the TV and watch one of the old movies playing on TCM.

Zack calls around two in a flurry of panic about some scheduling disaster for Monday’s show that cannot be managed over the phone, so Trish drags herself out of bed to head into the office on her only day off.

It takes her and Zack almost three hours to sort out the disaster (a call-in interview with a self-help guru was scheduled for the same time as an in-person interview with an environmental activist from Nicaragua). He never once mentions the rumours, even though Trish knows he knows because he sent those links, but she appreciates his discretion. Once she’s sure everything is settled, she tells Zack to go home, and follows him out of the office.


“I’m home,” Trish calls out as she nudges the door open. She has a bag of Chinese takeaway hanging from one wrist and a bag from the liquor store with a bottle of Tullamore Dew hanging from the other. She heads for the kitchen, contemplating eating on real plates for once.

“I hope you brought food,” Jessica calls out and Trish doesn’t need to look up to know she’s crashed on the couch with her boots still on.

“How’s your afternoon been?”

“Took a nap, woke up with a headache, realised we were out of ibuprofen, went to the Duane Reade, got a call from the weekend lady at the temp agency,” Jessica rattles off, sounding as unbothered as a person could be. Trish finally looks at her and, yup, she’s lying on the couch, leather boots propped up on the arm of the couch, looking like her day hasn’t been half as exciting as she said.

“Really? What did the agency say? And take your boots off.”

Apparently,” Jess says with a groan as she sits upright and starts unlacing her boots, “my lack of people skills makes me unsuitable for a desk job, so I need like, I dunno,” she grunts, yanking her boots off, “a mail sorting placement. Something away from normal people.”

“Mm,” Trish purses her lips and starts unloading the take away, “you’d do well in a physical job.”

“Because of my incredible strength or because I need to tone my core?”

“Please,” Trish rolls her eyes and watches Jessica walk across the living room toward the kitchen. “You could work out your frustrations though.”

“I prefer using sex for that,” Jess says, hopping up on one of the stools at the breakfast bar. “Is that from Hunan or China Star?”

“Hunan,” Trish says, passing an egg roll to Jess. “I’m not a monster.”

“Just checking. What’s that,” Jess points at the black plastic bag with her egg roll before taking a huge bite of it.

“Whiskey,” Trish shrugs, passing the bag across to Jess. “As a thank you for being my...for doing this.”

“Oh whatever,” Jess rolls her eyes, “it’s not like I’m signing up to do anything I don’t already do.”

“Still,” Trish taps her fingernails against the countertop. “Am I making a huge mistake?”

“The worst thing that could happen is you have to tell everyone off for assuming you were gay,” Jess polishes off the last of her egg roll and then twists open the whiskey bottle.

“And the best thing that could happen?”

“I dunno. We fake break up when one of us wants to actually date someone?”

“And no one ever finds out it’s a ruse.”

“Sure,” Jess shrugs, takes a swig of whiskey straight from the bottle. “Are we gonna eat or…”


“Are for nuclear families,” Jess clicks her tongue. “Give me my Szechuan chicken. We’ll watch something obnoxious on HGTV.”

“Sounds great,” Trish smiles, passing over a plastic container of food.

She watches Jess plod back across the living room to the couch and thinks about how nice and normal it all is, Jess and reality design television and way too much Chinese takeaway. She wonders, as she crosses the living room with her own container of food, how the lesbians on the internet would react to their version of a normal night in.

Probably figure out a way to write smut about it, or something.

Two weeks later is the ‘Night to Remember’ charity gala. Trish has been attending since she was a kid, first as her mom’s guest, and then as an invited guest along with her mother, and now...well, she’s still an invited guest, but her mother isn’t.

The theme is simply 'Christmas' this year and Trish decides to keep things simple, as well. Her dress is a deep cranberry red while Jess is wearing a neatly tailored midnight blue suit. The suit was Jessica’s idea, of course.

“I don’t want people getting the impression that I’m just some arm candy,” Jess says defensively, like Trish is even going to argue.

“Well, you sort of are.” Trish grins and Jess scoffs. “I don’t care if you wear a suit, Jess. You’ll look good in whatever.”

“Damn straight,” she sniffs, turning back to the sample rack in the stylist’s studio.

The red carpet is a little more mobbed than is normal for a medium-sized event, apparently there’s some back up at the entrance causing people to linger too long in front of groups of photographers. Trish and Jessica get stuck just shy of the door for five ridiculous minutes, which is why there are photographs of Trish leaning into Jessica with her head tipped back in laughter while Jess’s smiling mouth hovers a smidge too close to Trish’s jaw for it to just be friendly.

They weren’t even trying. Jess saw some weird little man bun bobbing on the horizon and when has she ever resisted the urge to make fun of a man? And Trish’s feet were already aching from standing still in her heels so she was leaning on Jess already and then when Jess leaned up and in to whisper a mean comment…

It’s just them, being the same two people they’ve always been.

But the internet warps it into a display of touching intimacy between two women in love and...The no comment from Trish Walker’s camp does nothing to dispel the rumours.

The next morning, just past seven, Trish bursts into Jessica’s room and crawls onto her bed, laptop in tow.

“Wake up,” she says, nudging Jess’s shoulder until she groans and rolls over, one eye only half-open.

“What the hell, Walker?”

“I woke up because I had to pee and—look,” she turns her laptop screen to Jessica, “my Google notifications have been blowing up all night.”

“Hrng,” Jess wipes at her face groggily and pushes herself up onto her elbows. She blinks, like the light from the computer is burning her corneas. “When did you set up Google notifications?” She rubs frowns and squints at the computer for a second. “Trish, Jesus. It’s not even eight.”

“Last week. And, I’m sorry, but—” Trish shakes her computer a little and Jess sighs.

“Fine. Okay. What—what now?”

“Apparently out-of-context joking looks like the most intimate moment of the season.” Trish motions to the picture of them that’s featured on JustJared’s front page. “Someone named Sticky on L Chat tracked down photos from every event I’ve taken you to over the past few years.”

“How the hell…?”

“It’s not hard,” Trish shrugs, turning her computer back around. She’s typing and then clicking and then turning the screen back for Jess to look at. The pictures on the board date back to just before Trish’s stint in rehab, when Jessica insisted on tagging along to keep her out of the tabloids.

“Wow, we look so—”

“Married?” Trish says, sounding amused.

“I think I see what that one person meant by saying we’re worse than Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss.”

“I can’t believe you know what any of that means,” Trish raises her brows, closing her computer gently.

“I can’t believe you’re this excited about our not-romance blowing up the internet lesbian community again.” Jess settles back down onto her pillow, yawning mightily.

“It’s just…” Trish worries her bottom lip between her teeth and leans over to put her laptop on Jess’s nightstand. Jess groans as Trish leans on her, but then scoots over a little and pats the bed next to her. Trish sighs, but slips down next to Jess, resting her head on Jess’s pillow. “You remember before rehab. The...the media—”

“Treated you like shit. But they’re sharks—”

“I know,” Trish says softly, reaching out to tuck some of Jess’s hair from her face. “But I’m enjoying that the sharks are playing nice right now. It’ feels good.”

“Well,” Jess sighs, rubbing her cheek sleepily against her pillow. “I guess that’s fine, then.”

“I can go get breakfast—”

“Nng,” Jess reaches out and wraps her arm around Trish’s waist to stop her from moving. “Sleep now, food later.”

“Hey Jess, I’m going out for coffee,” Trish calls down the hallway to Jessica’s room as she’s wrapping a scarf around her neck.

“What?” Jess steps out into the hallway in her underwear, a pair of jeans slung over her shoulders.

“I’m going for coffee. Wanna come?”

“We have coffee here.”

“Yes, but we don’t have caramel macchiatos here.”

“If you’re buying-”

“I’m always buying,” Trish rolls her eyes, “get some clothes on.”

The coffee shop Trish frequents is fairly dead for a Saturday, so Trish sends Jess to claim the sofa by the windows facing the street while she places their coffee orders. The coffee shop is warm and pleasant and they sit close on the couch, splitting a blueberry muffin and an almond croissant. Trish doesn't have a show and Jess is still being jerked around by the temp agency, so they can sit and take up space and talk and drink as much coffee as they want. It’s the kind of day Trish always dreamed of when her life was full of Patsy and scheduled to the minute.

Everything is perfect until they leave, an hour later and tanked on too much sugar and caffeine. They were so wrapped up in each other that neither of them noticed the gathering paparazzi outside, but as soon as they step into the chill of the late-December afternoon there’s a frenzy of flashbulbs and people chattering over each other. Trish tries not to roll her eyes because she knows it’ll end up on PerezHilton or god forbid, TMZ, but the urge is there. It’s been a while, but the memory of these sorts of things is in her bones, she’s about five seconds from shoving through the paps in the most polite way possible when she feels Jessica go terrifyingly rigid next to her.

She’s used to this, Jess isn’t. Jess was a prop her mother trotted out during carefully organised photo ops, too much of a loose cannon to trust in a wild and uncontrolled environment. She’s never felt the press of bodies as the paparazzi crowd around, never learned how to duck her head and keep looking forward as she walks.

She glances over at Jess and she looks… Trish remembers that look, barely concealed hostility, eyes flickering dangerously. She’s stupidly strong and could probably break all of the cameras being aimed at them with her pinky. Trish grabs her bicep gently and tugs her close.

“Don’t freak out, follow my lead.” She kisses Jess’s cheek softly, something Jess isn’t the biggest fan of because of intimacy or some crap, but she feels Jessica relax a little against her and she knows she’s gotten through.


“What do we do about this?” Jess takes a swig of bourbon and relaxes into the couch with a sigh. Trish is pacing. She’s been pacing since they got home from the coffee shop twenty minutes ago.

“We stay the course,” Trish says with a little huff. “I mean...if you’re—”

“Yeah, sure,” Jess shrugs, takes a deep drink from the bottle. She looks like she means it, like the press of photographers at the coffee shop didn’t almost send her into a Hulk-like rage spiral. She takes another sip and then wedges the bottle between her thighs. “Please sit down, you’re making the room spin.”

“That’s the bourbon,” Trish sighs, settling down on the couch next to Jessica after one more trip across the living room for good measure.

“Trish,” Jess licks her lips and turns to look at the side of Trish’s face.

“I’m sorry,” Trish sighs, staring hard at her TV. “I didn’t think...that hasn’t happened to me in such a long time. I—”

Trish,” Jess says softly, scooting over until their thighs touch. She leans against Trish’s side and tugs on her sleeve until Trish finally turns to look at Jess.

There’s a moment of suspended animation, where Trish’s face is hovering just-so-close to Jessica’s. Trish can smell the bourbon and coffee on Jessica’s breath, the faint mintiness of her shampoo, and something that’s neither booze nor coffee nor perfume, just Jess. Trish wonders if she’s contact drunk, because she feels the room spinning.

The shrill tone of her phone ringing makes both of them twitch. Moment gone, and Jessica’s off the couch in a flash, already halfway to the kitchen with the bottle of bourbon in her hands.

“I’m ordering pizza tonight,” she calls over her shoulder.

“Sounds good,” Trish says in a rough voice. She picks up her phone from the coffee table and takes a deep breath before answering. “Yeah, Zack?”

An email sits open on Trish’s phone, from one Julian Dean, a reporter with the New York Times. She’s played the publicity game long enough to know exactly why he’s contacting her for a featured profile, but still, her hands are sweating as she pushes open the door to the bathroom she and Jess share.


“I’m not done,” she calls out from the shower.

“I know,” Trish rolls her eyes, “I need to talk to you about something.”

“Oh,” Jess turns around and tilts her head. There’s a band of frosted glass that covers just enough so that all she can see is Jessica’s head and her lower legs.

“So...someone from the New York Times wants to interview me for a lifestyle profile.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Mm,” Trish hums, pulling herself up onto the bathroom countertop. Jess moves back under the spray. “He’s going to ask about us.”

“Of course. Hey, I’m all out of shampoo so I’m gonna use yours.”

“You always do,” Trish rolls her eyes, kicks her feet out so they swing. “I should’ve gotten a two bathroom.”

“Then it would just be weird that you’re in my bathroom while I shower.”

“Shut up,” Trish laughs, tucking her legs up so she’s sitting cross-legged on the sink. She listens to the water patter down, the sound of Jess squeezing shampoo or face wash or conditioner out of their respective bottles. The bathroom is warm, but smells nice, and Trish just sits quietly until she can’t roll the thoughts around in her head alone anymore. “I don’t know what I’m going to say.”

“Don’t say anything. That’s worked for us so far.”

“But what if...I want to say something?”

“Like what?”

“Like...that I’m bi.”

“Wait,” Jess steps away from the water, squinting at Trish. “Since when?”

“Since—” Trish bites the inside of her cheek, “I think I’ve just figured it out.”

“Oh,” Jess raises her brows, grinning, “is it because of...everything?”

“I—” Trish frowns, “I guess so? I'm not sure if it's just one thing—"

“Not me then,” Jess says lightly. “I guess I’m still waiting to be someone’s gay epiphany.”

“What about Wendy McMillan in twelfth grade?” Trish asks, grinning.

“Ugh, don’t remind me. Touch a girl’s boobs and suddenly you’re going steady. Ridiculous.”

“If you go by those rules, we’ve been going steady since eleventh,” Trish says with a laugh. Jess snorts and splashes water against the shower door.

“Be sure to tell the reporter that I felt you up during a game of truth or dare. That’ll kill Dorothy, for sure.”

So , Ms. Walker—”

“Trish, please.”

“Trish,” Julian says, almost like an apology. He has this little notebook open next to his nibbled on salad, like Trish is really going to say something groundbreaking here. There are a few notes already jotted down, but Trish forgot her contacts this morning so it looks a lot like scribble. He adjusts his glasses, glances down at his notebook, and smiles in a way that might be friendly if Trish trusted journalists at all. “Should we start off easy or go ahead with the hard stuff?”

“Hm,” Trish bites her lip, nudges her own salad around on her plate, “hard stuff, I think.”

“Feeling brave, then?” He smiles and Trish just shrugs—brave was showing up in the first place. “All right,” he clears his throat, taps his notebook with his pen. “When did you know you were gay?”

“That,” Trish exhales, wary of how each pause may be translated into the article. “That’s quite an assumption.”

“Well,” he purses his lips, “I’ve done my research. You’ve had a few...scandals in your career. But nothing involving men, sex, or even romance, so—”

“So you’re assuming I’m a lesbian.” Trish raises her brows.

“I’m not the only one,” Julian says flatly. “The internet is abuzz—”

“The internet is always abuzz, Julian.”

“Right,” he says with a surprised chuckle, tapping his pen against his notebook. “Then, what can you tell me about this mysterious Jessica Jones?”

“Jess is…” Trish smiles down at her lap and takes a breath. Jess is what? She thinks of all the things she could say, and then thinks about some dumb saying about how words fail her, and then she shakes her head, because all this thinking is ridiculous. “Jess is the most important person in my life. I’ve known her for so long and I love her. She’s,” Trish laughs quietly, “she’s my hero.” She imagines Jess rolling her eyes and it just makes her smile even bigger.

“Huh,” Julian clicks his tongue like he’s calling a horse and Trish looks up as he’s scribbling furiously in his notebook. Trish wonders for a frantic moment if she can tell him to keep it off the record, but she knows how this business works. “And your relationship status—”

“Julian,” Trish raises her brows, “I haven’t commented on my relationship status before, why would I do that now?”

“It was worth a shot,” Julian chuckles, tapping his glasses back up his nose. “So let’s talk about your recent ratings spike…”

The rest of the interview is easier. Julian keeps up the illusion that it’s a general profile for the lifestyle section, but Trish is seasoned in this sort of thing. He glosses over her talk show and how she’s coped with having been a teen star, shit that Trish is used to being asked. She knows that the bulk of the article will focus on the rumours of her sexuality, so the answers pour out of her with practiced ease—she’s fine with sounding slightly insincere about her celebrity.

After lunch she swings by her office and picks up the profiles for possible upcoming guests. She opts to walk to her condo from work, remarkably unafraid of paparazzi or rabid fans for once. It feels good. The air is as clean and crisp as it can get in New York and the day is bright despite the grey skies.

When she gets home she finds Jess stretched out across the couch in a pair of shorts and a long sleeve that looks a lot like one of Trish’s sleep shirts. She’s barely five minutes into an episode of NCIS with a bowl of popcorn on the floor next to the couch and a cup of coffee that’s probably gone cold on the coffee table.

“Is that my—”

“How was the interview?” Jess says lightly, popping a few pieces of popcorn into her mouth. She smiles and Trish sighs, pushing Jess’s legs until she lifts them.

“It was...fine,” she says, settling down on the couch. “It was clearly all about my being gay, though.”

“No shit,” Jess says, stretching her legs across Trish’s lap once she gets settled. “Did you play nice or…?”

“You’ll see,” Trish says lightly, resting her hands on Jessica’s legs. She doesn’t actually know how the article is going to turn out, but she decides not to worry about it. It’s out of her hands, now. “Change the channel, Chopped is on.”

“Ugh,” Jess rolls her eyes but changes the channel anyway. She tosses the remote onto the coffee table and picks up the bowl of popcorn, setting it on her lap so it’s close enough for Trish to reach.

They watch Chopped for three hours, and it’s just so normal; digging handfuls of popcorn from the bowl on Jess’s stomach, shouting at the contestants when they mess up, trying to figure out what they would make if they had to deal with those specific mystery ingredients. Trish has no idea what life would be like without Jessica there to make everything so normal and good.

Jess laughs as someone cuts their hand and nudges Trish in the stomach, making her laugh too. Affection swells in her like a balloon and she has a hard time not smiling, even when her chosen contestant gets knocked out before the dessert round. Maybe it’s the interview, making her look at things a little differently, but she realises that this is what people see when they’re out in public; the casual intimacy of the way they fit together, how her thumb rubs Jessica’s ankle without her even thinking about it. They’ve just been this way for so long, they’ve never known any other way to be.

They’re unloading groceries—actually, Trish is unloading groceries, Jessica is sitting on the countertop opposite the fridge, rummaging around in the bags and judging Trish for all of the almond milk and tofu she bought.

“I’m not eating these,” Jess says, pulling out a packet of tofu dogs.

“They’re healthier than actual hot dogs, Jess.”

“So I’m going to be eating from the hot dog stand on the corner—”

“Shut up,” Trish rolls her eyes, snatching the package of hot dogs from Jess’s hand. Her phone rings as she’s turning to put the hot dogs away in her fridge and she answers as she tucks them into the cheese drawer. “This is Trish.”

“Ms. Walker?” Trish recognises her doorman’s voice, a deep and gravelly Long Island accent, and turns back to Jess.

“What’s up, Jason?” Trish cradles her phone against her ear with her shoulder and motions for Jess to continue taking things out of the bag.

“Your mom’s here,” he says simply, sounding a little tense.

“What?” Trish hears her voice go up like a squeak and Jess frowns.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Walker, I can’t get her to leave and I don’t want to call the cops.”

“No, Jason,” Trish sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I’ll be down in a minute, okay? Just. I’ll be right down.” She hears Jason disconnect and takes the phone away from her ear. “My mom’s here,” Trish says before Jessica open her mouth to ask.

“What the fuck?” Jess is off the counter in a flash and, God, it’s so frustrating that she’s so goddamn athletic.

“Hold up!” Trish calls out, scurrying after Jess. She gets to her before she gets to the front door, just barely.

“What, Trish? I’m gonna go—”

With me downstairs,” Trish says evenly, curling her fingers around Jessica’s wrist as she tries to reach for the doorknob. “I can handle her myself, but you can tag along.”

They can hear Dorothy in the foyer before they see her. Jason is being calm, but Dorothy is shouting, demanding to see Trish.

Trish rushes ahead of Jessica but stops short when Dorothy spots her and stalks across the lobby. Jason is hovering close in case he’s needed.

“Thanks, Jason,” she says, swallowing hard. Jess touches her elbow gently and she feels a little stronger than before.

“I read it,” Dorothy snaps, waving an iPad in the air. Trish follows the movement of the tablet before looking over at Jess.

“You read what, Dorothy?” Jessica steps forward but stops short when Trish sticks her arm out in front of her. Dorothy shifts backward just a fraction, and Jessica smirks.

“The New York Times profile,” she says, holding her iPad out for them to see.

“Ah,” Trish nods, rolling her eyes at Jess.

“I didn’t know it was out,” Jessica says, brows raised. Trish shrugs apologetically and looks back at her mom.

“Is this your strategy, then?” Dorothy’s face is pinched and mean, but she’s not yelling. It’s better than nothing.

“I’m not sure—”

“Pretending to be in love with Jessica?” Dorothy waves the iPad again.

“I’m not pretending,” Trish clenches her jaw, tightens her hands into fists.

“Of course you are, you’re lying for the attention! Just like you did when you were little!”

Her mother’s voice snaps something inside Trish, some  brick wall of resolve, of desire to keep things between her and Jess normal just collapses. Distantly, she thinks about how they should’ve talked about stuff like this, but it’s too late for that now, she’s grabbing Jessica around the waist and pulling her in and—

They’re kissing.

It’s not...Trish has had a lot of first kisses. Most too wet, or too forceful, or with too much tongue. But kissing Jessica is just so damn easy. Their mouths fit together just so, Trish steps in close so their bodies are touching, and Jessica tangles her fingers in Trish’s hair. Jess slides her tongue into Trish’s mouth and Trish inhales sharply in surprise as her grip tightens on Jess’s hips. Jess tastes like cinnamon chewing gum and coffee, and nothing in the way she kisses Trish is demanding. It’s so good and so right that Trish feels like falling, but Jess has her anchored with her hands and the press of her strong body and the cinnamon-sweet of her mouth.

It’s easy to forget that her mother is right there, that they’re in a semi-public area, but then Dorothy makes some noise of disgust that cuts through the fog in Trish’s brain and she relaxes her hold on Jessica’s hips just a fraction. It’s Jess who the first to pull away, mouth red, dark eyes sparkling with what Trish assumes is delight at pulling one over Dorothy. She drops her hands to Trish’s waist, lets them rest there as they both look over at Dorothy.

“If you think—” Dorothy starts, sounding pathetic, her face bright red. It’s better than Trish imagined all those weeks ago.

“We’re not lying about anything, Dorothy,” Jessica sneers. She doesn’t even need to move to make Dorothy flinch backward. “Now get out and leave my girlfriend alone.”

Chapter Text

Trish is leaning up against the wall next to her front door and Jess is walking back and forth, trying to work off the coiled energy in her body from not punching Dorothy.

“So this is—” Trish says, clearing her throat.

Oh, right, and from kissing Trish.

There’s a lot going through Jessica’s head when they get back up to their apartment. Like, how much she fucking hates Dorothy. How unfair it is that Trish is still so completely incapable of ignoring her mom. How Trish’s mouth had felt against her own—

Shit .

Trish doesn’t say anything else, and the silence finally stops Jess’s pacing. They watch each other for a moment, Trish with her bottom lip tucked between her teeth, Jess with her arms crossed over her chest.

“We’re really—” Jess says finally, licking her lips, “are we past the ‘not saying anything’ phase?”

“Past the point of no return?” Trish chuckles and then rubs her face aggressively. “I don’t know, Jess. I’m sorry, I didn’t—”

“It’s fine,” Jessica says, a little too quickly, “I didn’t mind. That was,” Jess bites her lip, runs her fingers through her hair a little too roughly. “That was...some damn good acting.”

“Oh,” Trish pushes off of the wall, rubbing her upper arms like she’s cold. “Yeah. I...guess all those years on the Disney channel did me some good.”

Sure, Jess thinks, and wants to smack her head against the wall.

It’s only been a couple of days since the kiss but it already seems like it happened in a different lifetime. It’s like they’re back in high school, pointedly not talking about certain things—only this time it’s not Dorothy and the abuse. It’s them and…

Jess isn’t emotionally equipped to handle this kind of crap.

Sometimes they’ll be watching TV and Trish will sit close on the couch, it’s just normal for them to sit that close, but then Jess will remember the look on Trish’s face just after they parted...the way Jess’s nerves jangled like she’d been electrocuted...and—

Jesus Christ, Trish kissed her. How could she ever forget that?

And Jess isn’t an idiot, she knows Trish is thinking about it, too. She catches her staring, sometimes, like she’s daydreaming but her eyes are completely focused on Jess. She has no idea how to broach this subject, if she wants to broach this subject, and the longer time stretches between the kiss and the present, the more skittish Jess feels.

In spite of what they aren’t doing, the gossip mill keeps churning. Trish’s article blows up on the internet and there’s always some paparazzo catching them when they’re out and about. They’ve always had to deal with Trish’s admirers, people stopping her in a coffee shop or at a bar, singing that stupid theme song, but for the first time people recognise Jessica, even when she’s alone.

The cashier at the liquor store gives her a celebrity discount, laughing when she insists on paying full price for her Jim Beam. She almost breaks someone’s camera when they stalk her through the subway in the middle of the night. It’s awful, this dude with his flash going, saying things just to get a reaction out of her on film, but she remembers Trish’s mantra with the paparazzi and just keeps walking, clenched fists stuffed into her jacket pockets.

The pictures that end up on the internet are of her clenched jaw and stony stare, and everyone’s poking fun at her bitchiness. Which, that would be fine—she’s a bitch, so what—if they weren’t also using it to speculate on what Trish likes in bed . And then she just gets angrier because she finds herself wondering what Trish likes in bed and, Christ, this is not what she signed up for.

Trish, however, is a trooper, laughing it off like the old pro she is, but Jess has to go out and find something to punch that isn’t one of the walls in their apartment.

She walks through Hell’s Kitchen, fully prepared to find a rundown building and punch the fuck out of it, but it’s just her luck that she stumbles across some jerk stealing from a liquor store.

She ends up with bloody knuckles and a busted lip, but there’s one less asshole robber stalking the streets, and the owner of the store gives her a fifth of good bourbon for her troubles. She doesn’t tell Trish why she comes home in the condition she’s in, but she lets Trish fuss over her, sitting on the couch while she gently dabs at the wounds on Jess’s knuckles with an antiseptic swab. Jess tries to distract herself from thinking about how warm and soft and gentle Trish’s hands are, but not even the pain in her hand helps her mind wander very far.

The internet simmers on their sex life for longer than Jess would like. But it’s really just the tip of the iceberg, as far as wild speculation into their private lives goes, and the least harmful. If she digs far enough, there’s plenty of crap going around about how she’s a scrawny orphan, how Trish and her are practically sisters so their relationship is incest , how she can’t hold a steady job so clearly she doesn’t deserve to date Trish.

Never in her life has she ever believed that she and Trish are anything but perfect for each other, maybe not romantically, but at least...they fit together, and Jess has never doubted that for a minute. But now assholes on the internet (and on a few entertainment-based gossip TV shows) are trying to make her doubt something that’s at the very core of who she is and—

Shit, it’s a wonder she hasn’t punched through half of Hell’s Kitchen at this point.

Trish never seems bothered by anything, but Jess knows her better than that—she sees the way her shoulders tense up every time they step out of their building. Jess takes to walking closer than necessary, their elbows bumping awkwardly together until Trish sighs and loops her arm through Jessica’s. It doesn’t even feel like it’s for show, so Jess leans into Trish a little more, grumbling about needing caffeine. She feels Trish relax against her, shoulders dropping, her walk turning from rigid to fluid. It happens often enough that Jess takes to linking their arms before they even set foot on the sidewalk, so Trish is always a little less on edge.

It goes on and on and never ends, enough to drive Jessica crazy if she focuses on it too much. Trish promises her things will quiet down, they always do, but as the days go by, Christmas looming on the horizon, Jess isn’t so sure. It’s barely even been a month since the whole thing started but somehow being “bisexual celebrity” Trish Walker’s girlfriend has felt like Jess’s entire world.

But at the end of the day, whether or not she’s punched a hole through the wall of some already rubbled building in Hell’s Kitchen, Jess comes home to Trish, they eat dinner on the sofa, and Jess figures she can do it all over again.

She’ll do it for Trish.

Trish gets a last-minute invite to some gallery opening in the Village. It’s called ‘Reindeer Gay-mes’ and Jessica can barely hold onto her laughter long enough for Trish to finish the phone conversation with the gallery owner.

“Jess, really.”

Trish , oh my god,” Jess blurts out, her eyes watering with mirth. “She had to emphasise that it’s spelled g-a-y-m-e-s, because it’s gay. Trish—”

“She’s a highly respected artist from the Village—”

“Oh man,” Jess sniffs, wiping her face as she clears her throat. “You’re going to make me go to this, aren’t you?”

“I’m not—” Trish frowns. “I don’t want to make you do anything.”

“But—” Jess pushes her hair out of her face, the last of her laughter sucked out of her by Trish’s stern expression. “This is part of being past the point of no return, right?”

“It doesn’t have to be,” Trish says, pursing her lips. “You don’t...we could make a statement, that we’re taking a break or—”

“God no, Trish. After all that shit with your mom? I did not make out with you in front of that woman for us to just break up a few days later.”

“Really, Jess,” Trish scoffs, “I’d hardly call that making out. There wasn’t even tongue.”

“Next time,” Jess shrugs, but her stomach flips at the idea.

“Sure,” Trish says slowly, “next time.”

They RSVP to the exhibit opening, of course. It’s two weeks before Christmas and the gallery owner promised an open bar (for Jess) and plenty of new, interesting queer artists (for Trish). The biggest bonus, though, is that it’s a completely casual event, devoid of paparazzi except for a few journalists there for like, OUT and Next.

The event starts at 7PM and it’s just past six and Jess is still deciding what to wear when Trish comes in, already dressed and ready to go. She’s got this soft white sweater on and black jeans and boots that go up to her knees. She looks infuriatingly good and the only thing Jess has on are a pair of new-ish blue jeans and her boots.

“You don’t look gay enough,” Jessica says, hands on her hips as she appraises Trish.

“There’s no such thing as looking gay, Jess,” Trish rolls her eyes and drops down onto Jess’s bed. Her hair is down in soft waves and her makeup is so light Jess can’t even tell if she has on eye shadow. She looks more relaxed about a public event than she has since Jess has known her and it’s kind of—it’s really nice.

Maybe Jess doesn’t mind going to this thing, after all.

“You know what I mean,” Jess wrinkles her nose and turns back to her closet. “You should’ve gone with plaid.”

“I could wear my plaid jacket on the way over?”

“Good idea,” Jess says, tapping her chin. “What should I wear?”

“A long sleeve shirt and your leather jacket.”

“That seems too easy,” Jess turns around, crossing her arms over her chest.

“No, it’s perfect,” Trish says, hopping off of Jessica’s bed and brushing past her to reach into the closet. “Here,” she pulls the jacket from its hanger and presses it against Jessica’s front. “You look hot in this jacket. Looking hot is way more important than looking gay.”

“Yeah, well, you’ve already got that covered,” Jess mumbles, taking the jacket from Trish.

About five minutes into the opening Jess comes to two conclusions:

  1. There are only so many portraits of aroused vaginas with Santa beards that she can look at without needing a drink;
  2. That’s why there’s an open bar.

“I don’t think hats and beards make vaginas look any more holly jolly,” Jess says, gesturing with her beer.

“If you go around the corner there are penises with Santa hats and beards on them,” Trish says, widening her eyes.

“That’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to me,” Jess groans, pushing Trish softly as she takes a swig of beer.

“Sorry,” Trish smiles, looking radiantly unbothered by the whole thing. The urge to kiss Trish creeps up Jess’s spine and she smothers it by stepping away from her to inspect a candy cane striped glass dildo in a display case.

“That’s awful. Trish—this isn’t—” Jess turns with her brows raised. “Why is everything in her about sex?”

“This room is sponsored by the Museum of Sex,” Trish says, curling her fingers around Jess’s wrist. “If you want some nice tame lesbian art, let’s go to the Sappho room.”

“I hope you’re joking,” Jess mumbles, but allows herself to be dragged out of the room.

The whole thing isn’t bad, really. The art is...interesting...and the booze is great. When the two reporters from OUT and Next find them, they only ask a few questions and snap a picture before fading easily back into the crowd. If more events were like this, Jess wouldn’t even complain about going with Trish.

Trish does a lot of schmoozing, because that’s just what she does, and when Jess gets bored she plops down on a vagina-shaped bean bag chair in front of a TV that’s been playing queer animated retellings of classic Christmas movies, like Santa Claus is Coming out of the Closet and Rudolph the Homo Reindeer. That’s where Trish finds her, shortly after ten, almost asleep on the bean bag chair, and gingerly collects her to go home.

“That was exhausting,” Jess yawns, leaning against Trish in the elevator up to their apartment.

“You watched gay cartoons for two hours,” Trish scoffs, squeezing Jess’s bicep gently as the elevator doors slide open. “I’m the one who stayed on my feet, in not the most comfortable boots ever, and talked my ass off.”

“Hm,” Jess leans back a little, peeking at Trish’s ass before righting herself, “looks intact.”

“Oh please,” Trish rolls her eyes, lets go of Jessica’s arm when they get to their door. “I know it’s late but I’m starved, those canapes were—”

“Terrible,” Jess finishes, pushing past Trish once the door to the apartment’s open. “Pizza or Chinese?”


“None of the places around here are good,” Jess whines.

“Fine, then, what about burgers?”

“Yes,” Jess moans, unwinding her scarf from around her neck as she walks past the kitchen and into the living room. “I’m collapsing on the couch, you order.”

“You have a phone,” Trish calls from the hallway where she’s probably taking off her shoes and coat and putting them in the closet. Like a civilised person. Whatever.

Jess flops onto her back on the couch, kicks her feet up on the armrest, and arches her hips so she can pull her phone from her pocket.

“What do you want?” she calls out.

“Plain burger with mustard, small fries,” Trish says, walking past Jess and to her bedroom.

“Okay, so large cheeseburger with fries and a coke—”


“Yeah, yeah,” Jess mutters, putting Trish’s order into the app. “Anything else?”

“No...” Trish draws the ‘o’ out like she doesn’t mean it and then sighs. “Actually, a milkshake. Will they deliver those?”

“Uh huh. What flavour?”

“Chocolate,” Trish says as she comes out of her bedroom, now wearing flannel pyjama bottoms and a black camisole. Jess swallows, tries not to pay attention, and instead focuses on adding her own burger to the order. “Do you need my card?”

“It’s already in here. Should I put the tip…” Jess looks up from her phone when she feels a sudden sharp tugging at her boots. “Hey—”

“You need to start taking these off at the door,” Trish sighs, gently undoing the laces of Jess’s boots before trying to pull them off again. “Two simple rules—”

“I do turn the TV off now.”

“Still.” Trish takes Jess’s boots, holds them between her fingers like they offend her, and heads toward the closet by the front door. “Go ahead and submit the order, I’ll pay for the tip with cash.”

“You got it, babe,” Jess purses her lips, clicking submit.


“So I googled us last night—” Jess says, swanning into Trish’s room unannounced.

“You have to stop doing that,” Trish sighs, pushing herself up into a sitting position as Jess settles on the edge of her bed.

“Oh please, Trish, you have a Google alert specifically for mentions of us, including our portmanteau —Trishica— which I hate, by the way.”

“I turned those off,” Trish says quickly, pulling her knees up to her chest. “They were getting too annoying.”

“Whatever,” Jess rolls her eyes. “What I was going to say was. I googled us and I didn’t find anything . At least, not since—”

“The thing on POPSUGAR,” Trish nods.

“Yeah, it’s like—Wait,” Jess grins and Trish furrows her brows, “you totally googled us, too.”

“I did not,” Trish straightens up, stretching her legs out again. “It was a guess.”

“No way. If you turned off your notifications, how do you even know about the POPSUGAR article?”



“What? You do it! You’re the one who found L Chat.”

“Yeah, but we both know I’m trash. And I’m new to this celebrity game, it’s acceptable. But you,” Jess clicks her tongue in a mockingly haughty manner, “I expect more from you, Walker.”

“Oh, shut up,” Trish scoffs, chucking an accent pillow at Jess’s face. Jess deflects the pillow and turns to sit fully on Trish’s bed.

“Look, I’m just trying to say, there’s a serious lack of attention being paid to us.”

“I know,” Trish bites her lip. “And it’s not for lack of trying,” Jess makes a face and Trish wrinkles her nose in response. “We’ve been out to dinner almost every night this week.”

“Maybe the paps are bored with the ‘lesbians can’t cook’ story.” Jess raises her brows. “Or, do you think this means we’re no longer the talk of the town?”

“We were never really—” Trish clicks her tongue and sits back against her pillows with a huff. “I guess.”

“Well, that’s good, right? You can stop trying to shoehorn gay shit into your broadcasts every week and—”

“I was doing that before, Jess,” Trish rolls her eyes. “I haven’t changed anything about myself since we…started this arrangement.”

“Neither have I,” Jess shrugs. It’s not really a lie. She’s felt more exposed lately, like people look at her and Trish, rather than through her to see Trish. She’s more wary of being out in public alone, and when she’s with Trish she always feels like they should hold hands.

She doesn’t like holding hands, but isn’t that what couples do?

(There’s a picture of her bumping Trish with her shoulder. They’re both eating froyo and laughing and it’s so completely unguarded and natural that Jess is angry at someone for stealing that moment and making it something it wasn’t.

Or, maybe wasn’t.

Jess isn’t sure anymore, they don’t really need to hold hands to appear like they’re something they might not be.

The only thing that kept her from going out of her mind and ripping TMZ a new one was the way Trish had been smiling when Jess showed her the picture.)

But anyway, she hasn’t actively changed anything about herself.

Trish takes a deep breath, tilting her head back to look up at the ceiling. “Do you think this means we should break up?”

“Um.” Jess feels every inch of her skin go flush with heat. Her knee jerk reaction is to say no but... “I mean, if that’s what you want to do—”

“I…” Trish licks her lips, “it’s for the best, right? Jesus, I’m basically using you to piss off my mom, I’m pretty sure my therapist would have a lot to say about that if I actually went and saw her. Plus, I’m sure you’d like to go on sometime—”

“Oh, please,” Jess, says cutting off Trish’s rambling, “you know how I feel about dating.”

“I know but…you also can’t be alone for ever, Jess.”

“I won’t be,” Jess shrugs, “I’ve got you.” She nudges Trish’s foot gently for emphasis.

“You know what I mean, Jess.” Trish frowns, folding her arms over her stomach.

“I know,” Jess huffs, crawling up Trish’s bed so she can sit against the pillows like Trish. “How would we even go about breaking up? We never even confirmed anything.”

“I don’t know,” Trish sighs, scooting next to Jess and tilting her head to rest on Jess’s shoulder—like she’s done a million times before, and yet...this time it makes Jess’s heart race just a little. “I could always get photographed kissing someone.”

“Like who? Your gay assistant Zack?” Jess snorts and Trish digs her elbow into Jess’s side.

“It was just a thought,” Trish frowns.

“C’mon Trish, you don’t have anyone in your corner besides me right now which—that’s not meant to sound rude. It’s just true.” Jess looks down at Trish, who tilts her head up to meet Jessica’s gaze. “Maybe we just...don’t go to dinner together so often. People will make their own assumptions.”

“Oh,” Trish looks back down at her lap. Jessica can practically hear her mind working over the options. “That...would work,” she says after what seems like the longest moment ever. “It’s the end of the year and I have all of these dinners coming up—”

“See? Perfect. I’ll just stop showing up with you on my arm.”

“I think it’s the other way around,” Trish turns her head back to look at Jess, who just shrugs.

“Our still-popular L Chat board would beg to differ. I’m definitely the top.”

“Oh, shut up!” Trish laughs, shoving Jess so hard and fast that Jess actually nearly tumbles off of the bed.

By the week of Christmas things have quieted down so much that the only new thing Jess finds when she gets curious is a tag on a fanfiction website where, true to their promise, the internet has produced a dozen M to E rated fics about them.

Once she finds out what M and E rated fics are she decides she probably shouldn’t read them. So she doesn’t, but she gets this weird, confused flush when she thinks about what they could say.

Not like she’s thinking about…

But the temptation to read the stories is great.

Anyway, Trish and Jess are in this weird holding pattern about their “relationship” because they’re not sure how to subtly indicate to the press that they’ve broken up without, like—Jess can’t even begin to imagine Trish making out with someone in public. It makes her skin crawl.

So they just...keep doing what they’ve always done, and hope the internet follows the media’s lead. Which, isn’t that simple, but with the holidays coming, Jess has decided to push everything from her mind and instead focus on the traditions she and Trish have built up since leaving Dorothy.

They go out to dinner on Christmas Eve, to the same Italian place they’ve been going to for years. Jess always orders an entire pizza for herself, which she never manages to finish, but Trish likes to order whatever strikes her fancy. But, they always order the same tiramisu for dessert. It’s the best in the city, probably, and the portion at Christmas is always extra big. This year, nothing’s changed about the portion, except now it’s apparently free of charge.

“A treat, for the lovely couple. We always knew you two would get together,” the manager says, beaming as he sets the dessert in between them. There’s a little heart made of cocoa powder on top, instead of the usual tree, and Jess bites her lip to keep from laughing.

Trish moves to say something, but the tip of Jess’s shoe meets her shin, and she shuts her mouth.

“Thank you,” Jess says, smiling earnestly. “It’s our favourite.”

They call for a cab and wait on the curb with a bag of leftovers — Jess never can finish an entire pizza when Trish always orders something that looks equally as delicious. They’re so full that they just lean into each other as they wait, Jess keeping her hand on the small of Trish’s back, and when the cab pulls up Trish sighs and steps away from Jess. She climbs into the cab first, verifying the address while Jess piles in with the bag of food. They’re not playing to any sort of crowd when the cab pulls into the trickle of Christmas Eve traffic and Trish slides across the seat so she can rest her head on Jess’s shoulder.

Jess isn’t sure if this is how people would subtly indicate that they’re no longer dating, but she’s not in the mood to question it. She’s too warm and full of good food to care about anything more than the total comfort of being close to Trish. Plus, she did accept the free couple dessert at the restaurant. She rests her hand on Trish’s thigh and stares out the window, the faint jingling of the cabbie’s Christmas music the only sound in the entire car.

Jess has always felt bad about not hating Christmas like Trish does. She came from a good home and had parents who made her cocoa and cuddled with her and her brother on the couch while they watched Christmas movies. They had traditions, and even as a surly teenager Jess had loved every moment of it. And yeah, their deaths always hurt a little more around the holidays. She doesn’t get a new pair of pyjamas from “Santa” or wake up to her dad singing “A Holly Jolly Christmas” in the kitchen on Christmas morning, and the ache of knowing that will never happen again cracks her open just a little bit more...

But at least she has those memories.

Trish, on the other hand, grew up in a fucking nightmare.

Jess spent four Christmases at parties with fake smiles, pretending she enjoyed the ugly sweaters and shitty make up Dorothy bought her. She was thankful and grateful and glad to not be in the foster system on Christmas. The threat of being screamed at or hit was constant—even though Dorothy knew she couldn’t really hurt Jess, the fear rolling off of Trish was palpable.

When they were 15, Trish didn’t like the outfit Dorothy picked out for her to wear. Jessica had been at a therapy appointment so she hadn’t been there to step in. So Trish wore the stupid outfit and a bruise on her back that made it uncomfortable to sit up for too long. They spent the entire day after Christmas curled up in Trish’s bed watching Matilda and Spice World on VHS.

Their first year away from Dorothy was pure heaven. No uncomfortable formal clothes, just dinner from Lotus Garden and the best whiskey they could find before the stores closed on Christmas Eve. They didn’t even exchange gifts, being free was enough. But as the years went on they started giving each other things. Jess remembers the first Christmas it happened, both of them sheepishly handing over unwrapped gifts. Trish gave her two boxes of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies that she’d squirrelled away from last cookie season, and Jess gave her an extendable back scratcher.

These days Trish always splurges on a bottle of the best liquor ever, but since Jess has always been poor and insists on doing gifts with her own dollar, her presents have maintained the same level of unimpressive. Like, last year was a four pack of Burt’s Bees lip balm and some cute socks from Target.

(After rehab, Jess got her this stupid fake medal that says ‘You’re #1’ on it and Trish wore it the whole night, fell asleep on the couch with her head pillowed on Jess’s legs, the metal gleaming in the low light of the TV. She still has it, tucked away in the bottom of her jewellery box, and Jess pretends that she doesn’t know it’s there.)

This year Jess decides to make Trish’s present. It’s totally stupid, she acknowledges this as she’s making it, but it’s mostly because she’s not sure how she can express her feelings about the past few weeks in words.

She gets a few pictures of them printed up at Duane Reade and puts them in cheap frames she finds at the 99 cent store. For the rest she uses Trish’s printer when she’s at work and spends an entire day locked in her room, cutting and gluing and using fucking glitter with the same kind of frustration she used to exhibit in pre-school with glue and macaroni.

She’s not crafty.

But she gets the fucking job done and sticks the monstrosity in her closet where Trish will never venture because it’s scary.

She’s still washing glitter out of her clothes and hair on Christmas Eve, but she has this quietly satisfied feeling about having a gift that Trish will not be expecting.

After they’ve finished eating, takeaway boxes stuffed in the garbage along with two 2-litres of soda, Trish presents Jess with a sleek box of pricy Irish whisky with a name she can’t even pronounce because it’s in Irish.

It’s the usual gift, but Jess is thankful, as always. They hug, crushing the edges of the box between them, and for a moment Jess ignores the discomfort for the simple pleasure of hugging Trish without worrying about the meaning being misconstrued.

Jess’s gift requires substantially more finagling, and a lot of telling Trish to keep her eyes closed, but she sets it up on the dining table, drops a giant box from the grocery store on top, and tells Trish to turn around and ‘open’ it.

Trish whips the box off with a flourish and...


Okay she feels really stupid now that it’s out and Trish is looking at it.

“What the—”

“It’s like a…” Jess waves her arm. “A shrine. To commemorate our brief, public romance.”

“Oh,” Trish laughs, stepping up to the table and leaning over to inspect it.

It’s a piece of pink poster board with pictures of them from various gossip sites, each bordered by a different colour of glitter. The glitter alone cost Jess a pretty penny and her dignity, but at least it just adds to the ridiculousness of the present.

The top of the poster reads ‘Trishica: The Love of a Lifetime’ and is surrounded by hearts. It’s the title of the very first piece of fanfiction written about them, something that had made them both so embarrassed but they were sorely tempted to read.

And then there are the two framed pictures, the one from the first gala, where Jess is whispering in Trish’s ear—it’s a damn good picture of them—and the other is from the gay gallery opening, from the guy at OUT, and they both look so effortlessly happy. Those are just sitting on the poster, because they’re actual things and okay, the frames are tacky and—

“You can um, replace the frames, they’re cheap, but the pictures…”

Jess is expecting laughter, really, that’s the whole point of the thing, but Trish just keeps hovering over the poster. Jess feels a little weird, the longer Trish doesn’t talk, and she turns to look at the living room, like, what the hell was she even thinking?

“Jess—” Trish straightens up. Jess turns to look at her and sees a little smudge of golden glitter on her cheek.

“How did you get—” Jess presses her lips together and reaches out to wipe the glitter away.

She’s not sure how it went from wiping glitter from Trish’s cheek to Trish stepping into her space and kissing her, but there they are. Jess feels glitter on Trish’s fingertips, rough as she cups Jess’s face in her hands. It’s nice, though, Trish’s mouth is soft and open and Jess slips her tongue in without thinking. It’s just right, everything works just right, and Jess feels her heart hammering with adrenaline as she steadies herself with her hands on Trish’s hips.

Jess feels like she could do this forever, probably would. Trish steps even closer, runs her hands down to Jess’s shoulder and breathes deeply as she bites down on Jess’s bottom lip. Jess grunts and runs her hands up Trish’s sides, intends to bite Trish back, but then Trish’s phone rings and they both recognise Dorothy’s ringtone. It breaks the spell, makes them spring apart, and they just stand there staring at Trish’s purse until the phone stops ringing.

“I might get new frames, to match the ones at my office,” Trish says softly, touching the nearest picture near her. “But thank you, Jess. It’s perfect.”

Jess has always been good at avoiding things she doesn’t want to think about, talk about, or do. Trish knows this about her. But still, she presses the topic about the Christmas kiss, and Jess feels like they’re playing the worst game of cat and mouse. She’s thankful for her temp job, thankful that they need her until December 31st, thankful for longer-than-normal days that give her an excuse to crash before Trish can even open her mouth to talk.

She feels like the worst person in the world for avoiding her best friend, but she just knows herself, knows she wasn’t built to handle these things. Instead, she sneaks into the living room while Trish is asleep and pours herself a glass of whisky, trying not to think about how good it felt to kiss Trish and how she’d do it again, without hesitation.

And then she thinks, miserably, why she can’t just tell Trish that. But the answer is pretty obvious.

What if Trish doesn’t feel the same way?

The possibility is too much to bear, and the liquor helps her forget that.

Trish has events to go to, people to meet with. Jess doesn’t go with her, she doesn’t check the internet to see if anyone notices. She stays homes, drinks, watches a lot of really bad movies on TNT, and pretends she doesn’t care. It’s not the worst way to spend the last few days of the year, but it’s definitely not the best.

(The worst part is, she’ll be alone on New Year’s Eve, she’s about to be unemployed, and she can’t stop thinking about kissing Trish.

And she really fucking cares.)

Trish has always had a party to go to on New Year’s Eve, and Jess has always elected to stay at home and watch something from their movie collection.

This year is no different. As Trish is getting ready to go out, Jess orders a pizza and then crouches down in front of their DVD collection.

“What should I watch first?” She calls out to Trish.

“Bridget Jones’s Diary,” Trish says from somewhere, most likely the depths of her closet.

“What? Do I look like a Bridget Jones’s Diary fan?”

“No,” Jess can hear her moving around, the faucet in the bathroom turning on. “But neither am I. It is, however, a better alternative to rewatching Underworld for the hundredth time. A little more...seasonal.” This is said around a mouthful, of toothbrush most likely, and Jess rolls her eyes with fondness at the image of Trish, in her bra and underwear, brushing her teeth in the middle of her bedroom while she stares at her closet. “What should I wear?” Trish asks after a beat.

“A dress that shows off your legs,” Jess replies without hesitation.

She feels a little embarrassed when there’s no response, but Jess hears the water cut back on for a moment and then the closet door close, so she imagines her recommendation was fine, landed within the normal parameters. She grabs a few movies from the DVD case—just because one of them is Bridget Jones’s Diary means nothing—as Trish comes out of her bedroom. She’s in this wine coloured dress that falls just above her knees, her hair done up in a twist that Jess can never figure out how to mimic, and she has on heels that really make her legs look endless.

“Wow,” Jess clears her throat, nodding in what she hopes is a friendly, appreciative manner. “I give good fashion advice.”

Trish laughs, shaking her head gently. “You sure you don’t want to come?”

“Positive,” Jess holds up her hands, “I gotta date with some pizza and movies.”

“All right,” Trish sighs, turning back to her room, “I’m just going to grab my coat and then I’ll be gone.”

Before she leaves, Trish presses a quick kiss to Jess’s forehead—she does it every year, and every year it makes Jess feel warm from her nose to her toes. This year, again, nothing’s changed, but Jess can barely get out a ‘Happy New Year’ as Trish heads for the door.

It’s only 6PM, and Trish won’t be back until after midnight, so Jess selects Bridget Jones’s Diary and rolls her eyes as she selects ‘play movie’ from the DVD menu.

She decides, halfway through the movie, that it’s a crap movie to watch when you’re all alone in your dark apartment with nothing but some beer and pizza to keep you company. She finishes it anyway, but only because she’s busy stuffing her face to mess with DVD cases.

For her next movie she picks Rent because it’s actually a seasonally appropriate, if not also totally depressing movie.

She does not sing along (yes, she does) and does not cry (sort of, she’s just a little choked up, okay), and after it’s over she heads out for more beer because she should’ve known better than to just buy a six pack.

(She doesn’t do champagne on New Year’s—there’s never anyone to toast with, and it’s just sad to drink it alone.)

She rounds off the night with When Harry Met Sally, something from the bottom of her guilty pleasure list. Well, it’s not really a guilty pleasure. She remembers her mom had it on VHS, and they’d watch it on New Year’s Eve, timed perfectly so they’d be able to switch over to the ball drop. Jess wasn’t overly fond of it until the accident, but now she’ll watch it whenever she’s missing her mom. She definitely never misses watching it on New Year’s.

She polishes off the pizza and another beer by the time Sally is at the world’s worst New Year’s Eve party, and then feels guilty about not leaving any pizza for Trish—she never eats at those parties. But then Harry’s running across Manhattan to tell Sally he loves her and it’s just. It’s stupid that Jess is even thinking of taking a page from the book of someone played by Billy Crystal, especially on a stomach so full of pizza.

But then it’s only 11:40 and she could totally run to SoHo before midnight. Maybe bring another pizza with her.

Instead, she turns off the DVD player and turns the TV back over to the cable to watch the ball drop.

That’s where Trish finds her, at 11:49, suffering through a crappy performance by some country music star, shouting at the TV.

“This is terrible!” Jess groans, gesturing with the remote control.

“What is?” Trish calls out, nearly scaring Jess to death. She’s standing in the dining area, brows raised, still looking killer in her dress.

“Trish, what the fuck are you doing home?” Jess sits up, frowning.

“I just wasn’t in the party mood so I left early,” she says simply, holding up her heels. “Figured you’d like some better company than beer.” She has this look on her face that makes Jess’s heart drop, like she has something important to say, Jess knows that look, knows what it leads to, and she’s pretty sure sue knows why Trish wasn’t in the mood to party.

“You left your fancy party in Chelsea to hang out with me on New Year’s Eve?”

“I did,” Trish nods, walking into her room. “And you’re watching the ball drop.”

“There’s nothing better on,” Jess scoffs.

“I’m not judging,” Trish says as she walks back out into the living room, still in that damn dress. “We’ll actually get to toast at midnight,” Trish smiles, coming to stand next to the couch. “I was thinking—”

“Look, um. I haven’t had time to chill the apple cider and you know how I feel about warm cider—”

“As much as I appreciate the Martinelli’s, Jess…”

Jess can hear the ‘but’ coming, the ‘we should talk about…’, so she moves before Trish can get into it, grabs Trish’s upper arms, pulls her in, and kisses her.

It’s like the first kiss and the second kiss, all of that wound up into the feeling of Trish kissing her back after a moment’s hesitation. Trish’s body softens into Jess’s arms and Jess runs her hands up the back of Trish’s dress. Her goal was to shut Trish up, to stop the conversation she’s been avoiding since Christmas, but then she has her mouth against Trish’s and she’s falling through carefully built up layers of protection.

She wants this so fucking bad.

Trish’s nails scratch at the edge of Jess’s shirt and Jess pulls away long enough to tug it off, revealing that she’s not wearing a bra. Trish makes a surprised noise but then Jessica is pulling her back in, kissing her harder. Trish seems shy all of a sudden, touching Jess’s bare shoulders so lightly. Jess sure as hell isn’t shy, though. She runs her hands up Trish’s stomach, up up until she’s cupping her breasts over the material covering her chest. There’s too much fabric in the way, so Jess reaches around and tugs the zipper down on Trish’s dress in one swift motion. Trish inhales sharply against Jessica’s mouth, wriggling her shoulders until the sleeves of the dress slip down and off her arms and the garment pools on the floor at her feet.

Now there’s so much skin for Jess to touch and she’s almost shy after all, cupping Trish’s tits gently, Trish’s nipples tightening against Jess’s palms. A soft moan slips out against Trish’s mouth and Trish leans back, breaking contact with a soft hiss.

“Jess...I want—”

“Me too,” Jess says quickly, rubbing her thumbs against the softness of Trish’s skin. At least, she thinks she wants the same thing Trish does.

“My room,” Trish says and, yeah, that’s exactly what Jess wants, too.

They make it back to Trish’s room, a poorly choreographed stumbling dance as they try to kiss and touch and move all at the same time. Jess hops out of her pyjama bottoms and underwear, watching Trish slide her boy shorts off and climb onto the bed. She leaves her clothes where they are and climbs onto the foot of Trish’s bed.

Jess never thought she’d be here, ever. Maybe entertained the idea of it as a horny, awkward teenager—especially during that stupid, drunken game of truth or dare—but never in her life did she actually think she’d end up naked with Trish, like this, crawling on top of her, settling between her spread thighs and—

Fuck, she’s so soft. Everything...Jess wants to touch everything, because Trish’s skin is like warm silk, rippling and trembling under Jess’s fingertips as she runs them lightly up her stomach.

She leans down and then.

There’s kissing, which they’ve done, been doing, and then there’s kissing like this. Jess is still having a hard time wrapping her mind around everything. Trish spreads her legs a little wider and Jess settles in closer, propping herself up on her palms. She’s so turned on that when she presses closer and her her breasts brush against Trish’s she lets out the softest moan. It’d be embarrassing, if Trish didn’t reach up and cover Jess’s tits with her hands.

Then it’s just… so real.

They’re touching like this and there’s no clothes and Jess can feel the heat between Trish’s thighs like she’s standing too close to the furnace. Trish brushes her thumbs against Jess’s nipples and Jess’s elbows buckle a little. She recovers quickly, sliding her mouth away from Trish’s and kissing down her jaw and neck.

She takes her time wandering her hands and mouth over Trish’s body, avoiding the important places until Trish’s body flinches each time Jess’s hands drift low on her abdomen or her mouth trails the path between her breasts.

“Jess,” Trish almost whines as Jess sinks lower, her mouth warm and gentle just below Trish’s navel.

“Okay,” Jess nods, running her hands up the insides of Trish’s thighs slowly, making Trish’s legs jump and twitch. She cups her, the pads of two of her fingers sliding through the wetness there. Jess’s eyelids flutter closed and she bites her bottom lip, want surging through her.

She dips her fingers into Trish slowly, watching Trish’s face as her mouth forms a little ‘o’. She twists her wrist and Trish lets out a little shocked breath of air before tilting her head back and shutting her eyes. Jess leans down then, runs her tongue tentatively against Trish’s cunt, and Trish hisses at the contact.

Jess wants more, to go faster, but she’s so afraid of losing control and just breaking Trish that she focuses on slow, deliberate strokes as she licks around Trish’s clit, circles and figure eights. Trish squirms, bounces her hips a little like she’s chasing Jess’s fingers each time she pulls out.

“More—” Trish gasps, shit, like she knows exactly what Jess wants. Jess exhales slowly and adds a third finger, scissoring her digits slowly to make it easier. Trish’s breath catches and her whole body goes rigid.

“Is that…?”

“Again,” Trish breathes, so quietly that Jess wonders— “do that again.” There’s this begging note in her voice that zaps down Jess’s spine and burns between her legs, makes her gasp. She spreads her fingers out again, slowly, and presses her mouth to Trish’s inner thigh, sucking hard enough to leave an ugly bruise. Trish squirms, letting out quiet, gasping breaths that flash hot through Jess’s veins.

There’s no reason to go fast, really, but Trish’s thighs flex against Jess’s shoulders and she just imagines Trish’s whole body going rigid right before she comes and—

She needs that to happen right now.

Jess curls her fingers up, just right, and strokes her tongue against Trish’s clit.

God—” Trish gasps. Jess smiles, slides her tongue in a messy figure eight, and feels Trish tremble. “Yes.” She rolls her hips against Jess’s mouth and Jess moans softly, thrusting into Trish faster.

The right combination of curling and pushing and the pressure of Jess’s tongue just so against Trish’s clit has her coming undone so easily. Trish is quiet as she comes, a little squeak coming from her throat as her muscles clench and pulse around Jess’s fingers. Jess eases her down through it, pressing a wet kiss to Trish’s hip but keeping her fingers inside until Trish yelps and twists her hips away.

Jess pulls her hand away gingerly, wipes her wet fingers on the inside of Trish’s thigh which Trish scoffs weakly at. Jess smirks, kisses Trish’s hip again, and flops down on her side onto the bed next to Trish. She’s fully prepared for whatever is next talking or sleeping, whatever, except, of course, for what actually happens.

Trish rolls over, grabs Jess’s shoulders and pushes her into the bed as she climbs on top. There’s like no recovery period here, just Trish straddling Jess’s hips and Jess gasps, feeling the wetness between Trish’s legs against her abdomen. That’s really fucking hot, she thinks, and reaches out to run her hands up Trish’s stomach.

Trish takes her hands, just before Jess reaches her tits, presses a soft kiss to her palms, and then gently positions them over Jess’s head. Jess raises her brows, but lets her do it, and then sighs when Trish kisses her. Every nerve ending is so alive that even kissing Trish is a turn on at this point. Truth be told, she could probably come from just a few deft strokes over her clit. She wants so bad for that release that her hips chase it before Trish has even touched her. But they’re kissing, Trish’s fingers are trailing down her forearms tortuously slow, and Jess realises that Trish plans to drag this out. Her fingers dance down over Jessica’s torso now, skimming between her breasts, skating the plane of her stomach and then go still at the juncture of their bodies. She shifts off of Jess’s hips, kneels between Jess’s parted thighs, and then brushes her fingers up the soft skin on the inside of Jess’s thighs. Jess inhales sharply against Trish’s mouth, her legs falling open wider. She’s so close, but not, and Trish chuckles into the kiss, sliding her tongue against the blunt edges of Jess’s teeth.

Jess thought breaking a rib was agonising, thought a dislocated jaw was agonising, but this , the slow teasing way Trish drags her fingers just around Jess’s cunt is what actual agony is. Torture, she thinks, but just lets out a little hiss of frustration.

She just— God, she just wants to be fucked. She’s high from Trish’s orgasm already and if Trish would just—

And then Trish does, slides two fingers through the wetness between Jess’s legs and then Trish is inside her . It’s—fuck, it’s a lot, and it’s not enough, and Jess ruts her hips up against Trish’s hand immediately, chasing the pleasure that’s been rolling over her like a warm wave since she settled between Trish’s thighs.

When she comes she… she thinks she’s going to break Trish because her whole being just fucking explodes, but then Trish is there, holding her, soothing her through it, her mouth against Jess’s neck and there’s going to be a hickey in the morning and she doesn’t even care because she floats back to her body at the gentle pulling of Trish’s fingers against her g-spot.

And then Trish is travelling down, mouth hot on the curve of Jess’s breast, lips ghosting against her stomach and she settles between Jess’s legs.

Jess has never blacked out from having sex but when Trish puts her mouth against Jess’s clit and slips a third finger into her, her vision goes staticky.

It takes her a little longer to build up to another orgasm, but Trish is patient, her fingers working her hard as her tongue traces words and phrases around her clit. She tries to make a mental note to ask Trish what she was spelling but it probably get lost somewhere between harder and holy fuck.

When she comes her whole body bows forward and she digs both hands into Trish’s hair, holding her there as she jerks and shudders.

She lies back after a moment, heaving, her body limp as paper; her cheeks are wet and she doesn’t even remember feeling herself cry. Her breathing is completely jacked up and she feels like her heart’s going to explode but then Trish is pressing the whole naked length of her body to Jess’s, kissing her softly with a mouth that’s slick with Jess’s come. They lie like this for a moment, breathless and sweaty, Jess’s hands holding Trish’s hips while they kiss. It’s slow and good and Jess feels like an eternity passes before Trish pulls away, settles back onto the bed at Jess’s side.

“I’m...” Jess starts, not sure what she’s going to say but pretty sure something has to be said.

“Sleep,” Trish says softly, her lips brushing against Jess’s. “I’m exhausted.”

“Yeah,” Jess bites her bottom lip. Trish nudges Jess’s nose with her own before stretching across Jess’s body to click off the light switch that controls the bedside lamps.

It takes them a few minutes to get arranged in the bed, awkwardly tugging rumpled bed sheets and recovering pillows that’d been tossed to the ground. Jess doesn’t like to cuddle, not really, but when Trish rolls onto her side, Jess scoots close until their knees touch. There’s a lot she could say right now, but her tongue feels heavy in her mouth and her mind is still a little fuzzy around the edges from orgasm. Trish just smiles at her, barely visible in the darkness of the bedroom, and shuts her eyes, almost as if to say worry about it tomorrow.

She can’t help it, the worrying, but she’s actually exhausted, so she lets herself sink into Trish’s superior mattress, sleep carrying her away as she tries to forget sorting out the consequences of what just happened.

When Jess wakes up she’s disoriented and. Shit, she’s just a little sore between her legs and that’s definitely different. She flings her arm out, careful as she brings her hand down onto the bed next to her. Trish isn’t there, though. Jess sort of knew that, she could feel the emptiness of the bed without needing to check, but she’s only human and had hoped Trish would be there.

Trish can’t go far; it’s their apartment after all. So Jess sits up in bed, head spinning like she’s hungover despite not having been drunk last night, and she tells herself that this is not a consequence.

She figures she could get her shit together and get out of bed, get dressed or something, but Trish’s mattress is so great she just rolls out of bed to hit the can before crawling back in beneath the comforter.

New Year’s Day is the perfect day to sleep in, in her book at least.

She’s just starting to settle back through the layers of sleep when the front door opens and closes, the alarm chirping cheerily. And then—

“Jess? You up?”

Trish is standing in the kitchen with hot coffee and breakfast paninis from the deli down the street. She’s wearing running clothes and her cheeks are all rosy from the chill outside. She’s fucking glowing and Jess feels, more or less, like old wallpaper—albeit well fucked old wallpaper. She must not look how she feels because, as she sidles up to the breakfast bar, Trish just smiles at her. It’s that same smile always makes Jess’s heart do a little flip in her chest, only now she just knows why she’s always reacted that way.

“Paninis?” Jess asks, unable to keep herself from smiling.

“Two,” Trish says brightly, passing over two foil wrapped packages before placing a paper cup of coffee down on the bar. “I figured you’d be hungry.”

“You figured correctly,” Jess says, tearing open the foil and taking a massive bite without prelude. “Ungh.” Jess’s eyelids flutter and she hears Trish snort, the paper bag crumpling as she pulls something else out. “Thanks,” Jess manages, once she’s swallowed everything in her mouth.

“No problem,” Trish nods, taking a bite of a toasted bagel sandwich.

They eat in silence, Trish leaning against the counter, Jess trying her best not to hunch over and shove the entire panini in her mouth. She wants to say shit like ‘worked up quite an appetite last night’, but she’s never slept with...God, Trish isn’t even a friend she’s Trish, and Jess has no idea how to act now.

It’s not awkward, really, it’s just a little weird, and Jess wishes she knew how these sorts of things were handled by more emotionally stable people, because that’d be a better guide than her own heart.

She takes another bite of her sandwich, instead.

“You know I’ve been trying to work it out all morning,” Trish says suddenly, putting her bagel back down and dusting her hands off.

“What’s that?” Jess asks, mid-chew.

“Why you kissed me...last night.”

“Which time?” Jess raises her brows, but feels her whole body flush with remembrance of that first kiss.

“Jess—” Trish frowns and Jess licks her lips, putting the last few bites of her panini down.

“I thought it was obvious.”

“It wasn’t.”

“Oh.” Jess bites her lip, “well.”

"Why then?"

"You were gonna ask know.” Trish just waves her hand, as if to say go on , and Jess sighs. “What happened at Christmas, with the kiss and then with the...pretending it didn’t happen. And you know me, Trish. I hate talking about shit. So...I figured that was a better way to work it out than with all those words.”

“Jess—” Trish laughs and shakes her head.

“Laughing at me baring my soul is probably not the best response, Trish.”

“It’s not that, it’s...Jess, I was going to tell you I would’ve preferred to come home to a pint of ice cream than our traditional Martinelli’s.”


“I wasn’t going to bring up anything last night because it was New Year’s. One night off from feelings.”

“Oh.” Jess presses her lips together, not quite sure what to make of that. She just says, “of course,” and crumples the foil from her first panini and sets about unwrapping the second. She takes a bite that’s way too big and her eyes flit to Trish’s for a moment.

“Do you...regret it?” Trish is frowning again and, unwillingly, Jess remembers how Dorothy used to tell Trish not to worry her pretty little face, because frown lines are never an asset.

“God, no. Trish. I’m...shit. It was amazing.”

“Oh?” Trish looks pleased at that, cheeks reddening a little. “I haven’t—”

“Don’t say beginner’s luck,” Jess says, narrowing her eyes.

“Well,” Trish laughs.

“You don’t regret it, then?” Jess asks.

“Definitely not,” Trish says firmly, taking a bite of bagel.

Jess busies herself with her sandwich, trying not to think about the little thread of awkwardness connecting them at the moment. She’s about halfway through with her sandwich when she blurts out, “why did you come home early last night?”

“It sounds dumb,” is Trish’s reply.

“You caught me watching the ball drop. Nothing can be dumber,” Jess frowns.

“I was just thinking about…” Trish sighs. “You know in When Harry Met Sally, and it’s New Year’s Eve, and Harry runs across Manhattan to tell Sally he loves her?” Trish isn’t looking at her, so she doesn’t see Jess’s jaw drop just a little.

“I’m...familiar with the scene,” Jess says once she’s regained her composure. Trish is still making a valiant effort to look everywhere else except directly at Jess.

“It’s...I guess I just realised that no matter what we are, fake dating or real dating or best friends or whatever, I want to be that... with you for the rest of my life.”

“Be what?”

“Whatever we want to be. Whatever. But—together.”

“So you’re saying that you want to be with me for the rest of our lives?”

“Yeah,” Trish sighs and licks her lips, finally looking at Jess as she tucks her hair behind her ears. “I guess so.”

“And that made you leave the party before the ball dropped.”

“I was inspired,” Trish rolls her eyes.

“So in this scenario I’m Sally?”


“Just clarifying,” Jess says with a quirked brow, leaning her elbows on the breakfast bar. She studies Trish for a moment, brows furrowing, before she sighs. “You do know that you’re stuck with me regardless of...last night could’ve never happened and—Jesus, Trish, nothing has to change.”

“But it does,” Trish says softly, leaning forward so the space between them is less than a foot. “It already has. We’re not the kind of friends who just...fuck each other and then move on.”

“So we’re not friends,” Jess says evenly, but her stomach churns with a queasy kind of unease.

“I didn’t mean—”

“Everyone else thinks we’re dating. Hell, I’ve seen the pictures. If it weren’t me, I’d think we were dating, too.” Jess takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. “I’m saying that...maybe we should be.”


“Trish, please—”

“Fine,” Trish rolls her eyes. “So that’s…decided?” Jess nods, jaw clenched, not even trusting her own wit to keep things rolling with this. “Should we shake hands or…?”

“What?” Jess asks, sliding off of her stool and taking the two balls of foil over to the bin.

“This was a very business-like version of being asked to go steady, I don’t know what the protocols are.” Trish sighs, turning to watch Jess.

“And what would you call that arrangement with your PR team all those weeks ago? Intimate?”

“That was fake,” Trish says lightly, hauling herself up onto the counter and then grabbing her sandwich. “This is…” she takes a bite and sighs, chewing thoughtfully. “It’s not quite how I imagined you’d ask me to be your girlfriend,” she says, once she’s swallowed.

“You imagined that?” Jess steps towards Trish, stopping just before she reaches her knees.

“Maybe,” Trish bites her lip, looking down at her sandwich, away from Jess.

Jess steps closer, then, sliding between Trish’s knees, the memory of last night making her blush just a little. She takes the bagel from Trish’s hands and puts it back down on its tinfoil wrapper.

“Trish Walker,” Jess says, in as serious a voice as she can manage, “will you be my girlfriend?”

Trish looks at her, bottom lip tucked between her teeth, and for a moment they just look at each other.

But then Jess snorts, eyes sparkling with laughter.

Trish rolls her eyes, and tilts her head down until she’s kissing the laughter out of Jess’s mouth.

Jess lets out a shocked huff of breath, her hands tightening gently against Trish’s thighs. She’s indignant for a fraction of a second, and then it’s just like last night, warmth racing through her veins, her entire focus turning towards Trish.

“Yes,” Trish says after a moment. “I’ll be your girlfriend.”

“Yeah?” Jess grins, tilting her head.

“Well,” Trish dips her lips close to Jess’s again, grazing her upper lip lightly, “yeah.”

“Cool,” Jess says, her voice soft. She leans up, and kisses Trish again.