Chapter 1: Things you said at the kitchen table
“Hey, Tadwinks,” Sera says.
“Mmm?” Ink replies, nodding off into her cereal.
They’re sitting at their kitchen table, a crappy formica number that they got for five dollars off gumtree. It’s got dents in it, but it doesn’t wobble now it has newspaper under the short leg. Sera wants to cover the top in pictures and then stick plastic over the top. Ink thinks that’s a great idea.
“Can I tell you something?” Sera asks.
Ink looks up from her froot loops (move-in celebration food), and swallows the mouthful she’s working on. Sera’s tapping her fingers against her placemat and jiggling her leg, something she only does when she’s feeling a bit stressed. Ink reaches her hand out to touch Sera’s wrist, not to stop the movement, but to soothe. Sera’s shoulders loosen up, just like that.
“You can tell me anything,” Ink says. “You know that.”
Sera looks her in the eye, both of them still in yesterday’s shadow and liner, looking bruised. Sera’s the most wonderful thing Ink’s ever seen, even when she’s wearing one of Ink’s shirts like a nightgown and still drowning in it. Especially then.
“I love the hell out of you,” Sera says.
“I love the hell out of you, too,” Ink replies, trying not to smile like a fool, and failing.
Ink knows. She’s always known, but it’s still difficult for Sera to say it. It means more than Ink could say, that Sera tries anyway. That they both care so much.
“Nice,” Sera says, and she’s smiling too.
Sera turns her wrist so she can take Ink’s hand across the table. They eat breakfast that way.
Chapter 2: Things you said at the kitchen table
Having a broken leg kind of sucked.
Having a hot-ass girlfriend to fuss over you while you had a broken leg was the tits. The Tits.
“We’re out of milk,” Ink said, walking into their living room wearing short-shorts and a tank top with a hole in it.
She was rifling through her hand bag like it had wronged her, her hair gone a bit sweaty and straggly from the heat. Sera had never been more sexually attracted to a person.
“That sucks,” Sera replied.
“Will you be ok if I duck out for a minute?” Ink asked. “I don’t want to leave you if you need me.”
Ink looked at Sera with her big doe eyes, her lips drawn into a sad, little pout. Sera was, at that moment in time, sitting on their sofa, with her leg up on a thrifted ottoman, the tv remote in her hand, playstation controller by her thigh, and a takeaway pizza on their side table. Ink had also left her a fizzy drink, goldrush powerade, a bottle of water, and a cold beer. And Sera’s mobile phone.
“I’ll manage,” Sera replied.
“Ok,” Ink said. “But call me if you need anything, promise?”
“I promise, Tadwinks,” Sera said, accepting the chaste kiss Ink bent down to give her. “Now, on your bike, and I’ll see you ten.”
“Love you, baby,” Ink said.
“You too,” Sera replied.
It spoke to how mature Sera had become that she didn’t even stare down Ink’s cleavage when she said it. That was character development, that was. Or something significantly worse, like contentment. Sera opened the beer so she wouldn’t have to think about it. It was five o’clock somewhere in the world. Apparently.
She’d regret it later, but when she heard the knock on the front door, she yelled ‘come in’ on reflex.
“Hello?” she heard, in a tone and voice she recognized very, very well.
Sera didn’t know very much about classical music. In fact the only thing she did know was that whenever she heard/saw/sensed Ink’s mother, O’ Fortuna played inside her head, in all its terrifying glory. She knew this because she’d looked up the name of the song (and found it under ‘song they play in the Carlton Draught ad’).
Frozen in her terror, she did not hide her beer fast enough.
“Oh, Sera,” Yenaan Adaar said, poking her head into the living room. “I see you are… recuperating.”
“Uh, yeah,” Sera replied, knowing that if she reached for it then, Yenaan would notice immediately.
Yenaan looked at the side table. Her lips thinned. The invisible choir got louder.
“Are you still on pain meds?” Yenaan asked.
“Uh, yeah,” Sera said.
“Where’s your prescription?” Yenaan said.
“Bathroom,” Sera replied, sinking slowly, slowly further into the couch.
Yenaan shifted towards it, then stopped. She turned back far enough to take Sera’s stubby between two fingers, before leaving again. Sera mourned its passing.
She contemplated texting Ink, but Sera’s relationship with her mother was something of a cause for stress in Inkuudi, and Sera didn’t want her to crash the car on her way home. Instead, Sera practiced the deep breaths she used when she was trying to hit distant targets. Ink said it was a relaxation technique, but Sera thought it was mainly good for calming the fuck down.
It did not last long. Yenaan came back in the room and Sera’s focus packed up.
“You’re not allowed to drink while you’re taking these,” Yenaan said.
“Mmm,” Sera replied.
“Did Ink give you all this?” Yenaan asked, looking at the side table again.
“Nm,” Sera replied, noncommittally.
“And that’s what you’re eating?” Yenaan asked.
She pointed at the pizza.
“Mmnn?” Sera replied.
“Right.” Yenaan said. “Just, sit there and… play video games, would you.”
Sera nodded, but only slightly. Yenaan left the room. Sera turned the playstation on. She heard pots rattling in the kitchen and flinched, but still flicked the thumbstick and hit ‘x’ until she was on the main screen for Angry Nugs. Like frig was Ink’s mum going to come back in and find her disobeying.
It took fifteen long, long minutes for Ink to come home, screen door banging shut behind her.
“It was like bedlam out there!” Ink said, bouncing into the living room to kiss Sera on the cheek. “Are you alright? You’re pale as a sheet!”
“Y’mum’s’ere,” Sera said, staring blankly at the television.
“Mum’s here?” Ink asked.
“I’M MAKING SOUP!” Yenaan shouted, still in the kitchen.
“HI MUM!” Ink bellowed. “WHY?”
“BECAUSE YOU DO NOT GIVE INVALIDS BEER AND PIZZA, INKUUDI ADAAR,” Yenaan replied.
“OOPS,” Ink replied.
“YES, OOPS!” Yenaan said.
“I’m so happy you and mum are starting to get along,” Ink said, stopping so she could kiss Sera again. “I’m going to help mum in the kitchen, let me know if you need anything, love you babe!”
“Help. Me.” Sera hissed, but too late.
Ink was already bounding off to the kitchen. To make soup.
It was fucking good soup in the end, too.
Time the first:
Normally, when Sera woke up, she got up. She didn’t much care for lingering in bed when there were other things she could be doing, like feeding the feral cat colony behind her house, and seeing how many of them she could name.
Waking up in Ink’s bed was… different. It was warm, and safe, with their bodies curled towards each other, and Ink’s arm slipped around her. She couldn’t think of anything that would be better than watching Ink breathe, slow and comfortable, in her sleep.
“Mm,” Ink said, some time in.
“Mm?” Sera replied.
Ink snuggled in closer, under the blankets. She ducked her face into Sera’s hair, like she was a sleepy kitten in a video, hiding from the sun. It made Sera’s heart beat like a drum.
“Time’sit?” Ink mumbled.
“Nine and a bit,” Sera said, looking up at the electric clock by the bed.
Ink gasped quietly.
“Maccas breakfast,” she said. “Come on!”
She rolled out of bed, leaving Sera feeling odd and bereft.
“Wassat?” Sera asked.
“Get your kit on,” Ink said. “Sunday Maccas!”
“What?” Sera tried again.
Ink didn’t hear her, she was too preoccupied with trying to get her shorts on while mildly hungover.
Time the second:
“Why are you spreading tar on your toast?” Sera asked.
It was nice toast too, smothered (yes, that word specifically) in butter, and now covered in something brown-black and shiny, like shoe polish.
“It’s vegemite,” Ink said, unbothered.
She finished with her knife and held a triangle up in one hand. She took a bite out of it, and made a pleased sound. Normally Sera would’ve enjoyed that.
“No seriously, what is that?” Sera asked. “It smells weird and salty.”
“S’yeast,” Ink replied, chewing contentedly.
“You what?!” Sera said.
Time the third:
Sera didn’t really care too much about underwear, because she was mostly interested in taking it off (if it was on Ink) or leaving it right on (if it was on anyone else). She had to admit though, she was pretty excited to see Ink in a thong. Sera liked Ink’s butt. It was Ink’s and it was stellar.
“Alright,” Ink said. “Found ‘em.”
She walked into the living room wearing her clothes and flip flops. Sera’s brow furrowed in confusion.
“Aren’t you going to let me see it?” Sera asked.
“See what?” Ink asked.
“The thong,” Sera replied.
Ink lifted her leg up and pointed at her foot. Her flip flop was green.
“It’s got the cricket flag on it,” Ink said. “It’s funny because I don’t like cricket.”
Time the fourth (special round):
“You drink so much tea,” Ink said, sounding impressed. “That’s a whole box, this week.”
Sera sipped at her Royal Elfroot and didn’t say anything. By her standards she was holding back. Didn’t want Ink to think she had a problem or anything.
“Have to do another grocery run today,” Ink added.
Grimark: Nah but Ink treating Sera to a Bunnings sausage sizzle. Just imagine.
Also who freaks out at spiders, and who’s the one who gently removes them from the house with a glass and a bit of paper? Or do they both just chill and let the spiders do their thing?
Me: Oh my god I completely missed the fucking sausage sizzle…
I could’ve had one after one of Ink’s games at the local Women’s Turf Hockey League, Sera sitting on the sidelines screaming that the 18 year old ref is fucking blind.
And then when they go to Bunnings to get Sera’s art supplies (yes, art supplies) there’s another sausage sizzle, and Sera starts to think this is some sort of weird practical joke. Why are there so many sausage sizzles? It’s 35 degrees out. Why don’t they sell lemonade popsicles instead?
On the drive home they have to go past the local primary school. They’re fundraising. With a sausage sizzle. Ink asks if they can stop.
Also the person who gets spiders out of the house is Yenaan. Ink has been known to put a bowl on the really big huntsmans and then call her mum up, crying. They don’t mind the smaller ones, but the big ones freak Ink the fuck out. She knows they’re harmless. That does not help.
Sera would try to do it, but she hasn’t got the technique down yet. Where she’s from, spiders simply do not get that big. Yenaan considers this another minor point against her ability to take care of her daughter’s physical and emotional health.
One time, when Sera and Yenaan were out of town, she wound up gaffer taping a tupperware container to the wall and then fear-calling Uncle Bull anyway, because Sera wasn’t going to be back for two days, and she didn’t want the spider to starve before she got it out of the house.
Chapter 4: Insults
Just a warning, there's some fantastical bigotry in this one, not from either of our girls.
Written for the prompt: Random passerby insults one of them, the other reacts.
Sera’d always thought love was a bit naff. The kind of thing humans came up with to sell movies. She knew what fondness was, and selfishness, but love was unfamiliar. Unwelcome, even. It was too easy to hurt someone, if they loved you; too easy for them to hurt you, if you loved them. Whole thing was stupid.
Which was why being in love, being completely in it, was scary. Because Sera knew it was bad. Knew it didn’t make any sense, at all, and she still didn’t want to change it. She wanted every moment she could get; in their flat, up the shops, sitting in the food court at Westfield eating fish and chips…
“I love chicken salt,” Ink said, popping her index finger into her mouth to suck the tip.
Ink was Everything.
“Yeah, s’great,” Sera said.
“Do you want some more?” Ink asked. “You barely ate anything.”
“Thanks Tadwinks, I’m good,” Sera said, because she was.
Sera liked watching Ink enjoy things. It made her feel like she was falling off something low, like a chair.
“Mmm, if you’re sure,” Ink replied. “Hey, how ‘bout I make spaghetti tonight? We can stop by Woolies on the way home.”
“Shyeah, that’s my favourite,” Sera said.
“I know,” Ink said, leaning a little further over the table and smiling like a big goof.
Sera was very sure that she was going to marry her. It wouldn’t be legal or anything, but Sera didn’t give a rat’s arse about that. They’d get it to happen when it needed to happen. When they wanted it to.
“Mmmm,” Sera said.
“What are you grinning about?” Ink asked.
Ink rested her head on her left hand, and slid her right over the table, palm up so Sera could take it if she liked. She did.
“Thinking ‘bout you,” Sera said, loosely hooking their fingers.
And that was when someone decided to ruin it.
Ink heard it before Sera did. She was closer, and her hearing was just a little better than Sera’s even without the noise of the food court around them. She went rigid, her fingers tense in Sera’s hand. Sera opened her mouth to ask her what was wrong.
That was when she heard the mooing.
“Hey, I want to go,” Ink said, her shoulders curving in, her hips already twisting so she could get up.
Sera looked up and over Ink’s shoulder, past her grey skin and her white hair, over to a table full of young men. Three humans and one dwarf, all of them laughing, one of them with his hands cupped over his face. He was the one making the sound. Sera learned his face first, and then the others.
“Sera?” Ink asked, her voice going high and upset.
“Let’s go, Tadwinks,” Sera replied.
Sera was never going to tell her, but she’d been glad when Ink had been too upset to drive. Of the two of them, only Ink had her licence, so if Ink needed a half hour to get herself together, then that was a half hour Sera could spend getting her a smoothie and stealing some fuckwit’s wallet.
Her quarry were easy to find. They hadn’t gone far. In an act of amazing convenience they were actually at the Boost stand.
“What are you doing this weekend?” the Mooer said, to his friends.
“Go up the pub, get pissed,” one said. “Puke in a bush.”
“Sounds good,” another replied.
Sera bumped into the Mooer.
“Hey, watch where you’re going!” he said.
“Sorry,” Sera replied.
She was not sorry. At all.
The thing about credit card fraud was that it was a mug’s game, and anything one might do in a short period of time would probably be reimbursed, and if you were unlucky, the CCTV footage would do you in.
The thing about driver’s licences was they had your address on them, and nobody ever rekeyed their cars after their keys got lost. People tended to assume they’d dropped them rather than had them stolen, if the car was still there after and no charges showed up on their cards.
Sera’d had an eventful youth.
Two days later it was on the five o’clock news on channel ten. Sera taped it.
“In a bizarre act of vandalism, a car was found plunged into the Rutherford Fountain early this morning.”
The footage showed a Holden Commodore tipped into a state landmark, the words ‘Foreigns Go Home’ painted on the windows. The back had been pixellated, but Sera knew for a fact that it said “I have never satisfied another person, sexually or otherwise”.
That was what she got for letting Dagna do the graffiti.
“Police are searching for suspects…”
The police were searching for a five foot ten human guy and his dwarf buddy, because those were surprisingly easy to find when you wanted to drive a car into a fountain. She’d have felt bad, but it was an ugly fountain.
Sera felt Ink looking at her, and turned to look her girlfriend in the eye.
“Babe…” Ink said. “Was that…?”
Sera took a sip of her beer.
“Hey Tadwinks, what are the rules about incriminating your girlfriend in court?” she asked.
“Um, I don’t think they have any,” Ink said.
“Right, then I don’t know nothing, officer,” Sera said, settling back into the couch so she could watch a fluff piece about a cat that thought it was a dog.
“We should go up the RSPCA and get a kitty,” Ink said, two minutes in.
Chapter 5: Things you said while sleep deprived
It was a strange place to be in, to be proud of Ink for working hard at uni, while not understanding in any way, shape, or form, why she bothered. University was long days, with classes in the morning and work at night, and notes and notes and notes, and never actually doing anything. For three months at a time, Ink sat at a desk and read. When Sera wanted to learn something, she went out and did it. Learn by doing. Practical, quick. Better.
But Ink said she needed a piece of paper to get a job, so, Sera put up with it. She was really looking forward to the day where Ink could be done with the whole miserable thing. Sera missed her.
It was past ten when Sera heard Ink’s key in the front lock. Sera turned the volume down on the tv and poked her head up over the back of the sofa. Ink appeared in the entryway on the tail end of three slow, heavy steps. She toed her shoes off with one hand on the wall for balance, and let her backpack slip from her shoulder and down to the floor, with less care than usual. It made a thunk when it landed. Ink had dark circles under eyes, and an uncharacteristic slump.
“Welcome home,” Sera said, to fill in the silence.
“Hey,” Ink said. “Frick, I’m knackered.”
“Want to turn in early?” Sera asked.
Another night with Ink dead to the world as soon as her head hit the pillow. Great.
“I’d love to, but I can’t. I have an essay to finish,” Ink said.
“Ugh, leave it ‘til tomorrow,” Sera said.
“I can’t, it’s due tomorrow.”
“Do it in the morning, then.”
“I have other classes.”
Sera sighed, but nodded. Ink frowned lightly, and used the moment to stretch out her shoulders, like she needed something to do with herself other than stand there. She was off towards the kitchen right after, without so much as a by-your-leave. Sera turned back towards the telly and put the volume back up.
“Do you want a coffee?” Ink called.
“Nah,” Sera replied.
It wasn’t like she was even that interested in what was on. It was some Orlesian film about a man that fell in love with a god that had fallen from grace, down into Val Royeaux. There was a lot of fast talking and staring at train tracks. For an Orlesian film, there was surprisingly little sex.
She heard Ink walk down the hall behind her and pick up her backpack. Ink stopped for a minute, before walking back towards the kitchen.
Sera switched channels, landing on an action film. There were explosions. A man’s head popped off his shoulders like a cork. Sera made a face at it, and changed the channel again.
“Sera?” Ink called.
“Yeah?” Sera replied.
“Could you turn the sound down a bit?”
She turned the sound down.
“Sera, can you please turn it down a bit more, I’m trying to work.”
“Ugh, fine,” Sera said, putting it so low she could just hear it.
“Thank you!” Ink replied, sounding tense or annoyed, or something else.
Sera grabbed one of their throw pillows and hugged it. Felt like Ink didn’t want even the slightest hint that Sera was even around. She pushed the off button on the remote and chucked it on their coffee table. Sera heard the wind whistling through the trees outside, and something else. Sniffling.
She got up, pillow left on the sofa, and walked to the kitchen. Her feet were dry, so they didn’t make a sound against the linoleum floor. Ink was in front of the kettle still, her head leaned against the top cabinet and her hip against the counter, shoulders curled in. Arms wrapped around her own body protectively. Her chest juddered, then went still.
“Hey,” Sera said. “You alright?”
Ink flinched, brought her hand up to her face like she was wiping at it. She didn’t turn.
“Yeah,” Ink said, pausing to sniff before speaking again. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Alright,” Sera said, softly.
“You off to bed?” Ink asked.
“Was thinking about it.”
“Ok. I’m gonna be a while, I’ll try not to wake you up.”
Her voice cracked a little on the last bit. Sera had that feeling, like someone stepping over her grave. She hated when Ink cried. She never knew what to do.
She stepped into the kitchen anyway. Put her hand down, gently, on Ink’s shoulder. She felt a burst of sweet relief when Ink didn’t shrug her off.
“What’s wrong, Tadwinks?” Sera asked.
Sera could see Ink in profile, her liner running (she never bought waterproof), tears welling slowly before they fell. Ink didn’t move, but she did look down, and met Sera’s eyes.
“I’ve had the longest bloody day, and I’m in for more of it tomorrow,” Ink said. “I just… can’t you support me? Even a little.”
And that brought confusion, and anger, because Sera’d thought she had been. She brought in half the rent, did her share of everything, brought Ink lunch sometimes and ate it with her. Loved her, more than anyone.
“What do you mean, I don’t support you?” Sera said. “I do all sorts of-”
“Tonight! I meant tonight!” Ink said.
Somewhere in all of that, Sera’d let her hand drop, and fall into a fist by her side. She only noticed because it went loose after Ink snapped at her.
Ink tucked her face away.
“I’m so tired,” Ink said. “I have so much work to do, and I’m so tired, and I’m so scared I’m going to fail at this.”
“You won’t,” Sera said. “You’re you, you won’t fuck it up.”
Ink laughed, but it was wet, and disbelieving. In front of her the kettle bubbled loudly, and then clicked as it turned off. Sera put her hands over Ink’s, as Ink reached for it.
“Hey,” Sera said. “How’s about I make you a cup of tea, and get you a biscuit, and you can do your thing?”
Ink sniffled again, and nodded.
“Alright,” she said.
“Alright,” Sera replied.
“All these long days…” Sera said, later, in bed. “I miss you.”
“I miss you too,” Ink replied.
Ink burrowed in closer, from where she was hiding in Sera’s neck. Sera could feel her lips move when she talked.
“This won’t last forever,” Ink said. “We’ve just got to wait it out.”
“Yeah,” Sera said, sadly.
“We will, right?” Ink asked.
Sera kissed Ink’s hair.
“’Course we will,” Sera replied.
Ink’s breath went slow and quiet within minutes. Sera listened to her sleep, and savored her presence. Ran her hand through Ink’s hair, lying in their bed, in their place. Held on until those things calmed her.
And after that, she slept.