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Everything About You

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How did you know if you were a lesbian or not? Was it the number of women versus the number of men, or more like how you felt about the women? Tem had mastered manipulating men almost before she knew what to do with the talent, but if you were alone in the world and you didn't want to be, you learned. Men adored her until she wanted to be taken seriously, while women hated her on sight unless she could produce enough flaws to cease being a threat.

But only three men had ever meant anything to her, and not for sexual reasons. All the rest, every single one, they were tools who thought they were putting something over on her. It was the women who stood out in her life.

2000

What everyone figured was probably her eighteenth birthday, a warm Santa Monica night, her plaid skirt scrunched up around her waist, white blouse unbuttoned, sharing a pilfered bottle of wine with Leslie Becktall under the pier. Their crucifixes (Leslie's gold one, a confirmation gift from her parents, Tem's silver one that was a gift from Father Maghill to make up for life not being fair) dangling between their breasts. They didn't take those off anymore, just because they were doing what they were doing, it wouldn't make things feel any less weird or guilty.

“Leslie, I...I love you,” she gasped, her hand diving under Leslie's skirt for another round. Leslie'd hardly touched her tonight, she seemed distant but Tem didn't mind pleasuring herself after, Leslie was shy about these things but she loved to watch. She'd once taken a picture of Tem in the moonlight, spread on the sand, touching herself with an expression of ecstasy on her face.

“Oh, Tem. Oh, um...” Leslie said and Tem's hopes crashed harder than the waves on the sand. “I really care about you too, but you know this can't go anywhere.”

“It doesn't matter, I just want to make you feel good for like, forever,” Tem said, grateful she didn't sound as desperate as she felt. She put her hand up Leslie's skirt again, only to be just as firmly rebuffed.

“I just can't,” Leslie tried to explain. “I know there's something I have to do. God wants me for something and I don't want to be a hypocrite.”

“Why do you think God doesn't want you to be with me?” Tem asked, already knowing the answer. Blah blah Leviticus, blah even more blah St. Paul. Not supposed to be doing these things at all, but you might get away with it if you pretended it wasn't real. She took a final swallow of the wine and rested the bottle in the sand.

“For one thing, you keep talking about the army. God wants me to help people, not make everything worse.”

“God needs warriors too. Like Joshua, or David.” Tem thought David was awesome, in spite of his being kind of a womanizer. He couldn't help it if he was hot, you use what you've got.

“Well, I won't be your Jonathan,” Leslie said. Tem found out that Leslie had been serious the day the Mother Superior announced the next class of novices. Well, everyone reacted differently to the Twin Towers falling, didn't they? You cried over someone you thought was your everything, then you went off to kill or be killed ( that meant riding supply convoys, but everyone soon learned that the enemy didn't care either way and you could get promoted really fast just by not dying).

2009

Charissa Sosa was also really good at not dying.

It might have been the only thing they'd ever really had in common. Amazing hot sex, plus a determination not to die. And feeling so alone in a profession that pretended to want women but didn't know what to do with them, and didn't want anyone with the slightest gay leanings at all. Not that either of them wanted to campaign for the right to Ask and to Tell, “Chrissa” was all business, and Tem had learned the hard way not to risk her feelings.

Tem often wondered if they'd met in a Starbucks or at college, if they would've even spoken to each other. She obviously hadn't known the woman as well as she'd thought, because Tem made the mistake, again, of getting too serious and woke up one morning to find her lover gone. She couldn't forgive anyone who made her remember those foggy moments of waiting on the promenade for a woman whose face she barely recalled to turn around, realize she was lost and come back for her.

“I thought you would come back.”

2011

Tem screamed her head off as the helicopter suddenly plunged toward the treetops.

“Murdock, do something!”

Murdock, on the other hand, never went away. She was a relentless, unpredictable force of nature who talked like Scarlett O'Hara, dressed like a trucker and had no sense of emotional self preservation. Or any other kind of self preservation, really. Murdock thought life was a cartoon. The chopper grazed the trees, crashing through the branches, Tem heard glass breaking and metal crunching as they nosedived into a pond.

“That didn't go the way I planned,” said Murdock.

“Duh,” said Tem, feeling around for what was left of the door. It made an ear splitting noise scrrrrrrrkkk noise and fell off. Tem climbed down, sinking waist deep in the freezing water. On the shore, she stripped off her shoes, pants, underpants and tank top, aware that Murdock, wearing a sports bra and Muppet themed boxer shorts, was sitting on a rock nearby, watching with undisguised interest.

“Is this the first time I got you all wet?” Murdock asked. Tem couldn't resist showing off a little as she bent over to gather her clothing and spread them on the rocks.

“Only you, H.M.”

“Wouldn't hate it if you came over here.”

Tem sucked on the tip of one finger while she walked slowly towards her friend and team mate.

“Hannibal wants us at the meeting place by five,” she pointed out coyly. “I don't know...” she stopped moving, as if she was wavering in her decision.

“What I meant was, get over here,” Murdock purred. “You got me all worked up, sugar.” Tem stepped in front of her, as close as she could get.

“Really?” she asked softly.

Murdock pounced like an overexcited puppy and they both went down in a tangle of arms and legs, then Murdock went down a different way. Murdock always made love to her like it was the first time ever, she left no place on Tem untouched. This was no teenage fumbling, and no half cynical affair of convenience, Murdock was everything she could have ever wanted.

“You alright, baby?” She stroked Tem's hair as if she was a precious doll.

“Better than ever,” said Tem.