"Jesus tapdancing Christ, Molls, what happened?"
Deborah had just walked in the door, a little before six. Molly was already in her pajamas, had wrapped herself in a blanket, and was huddled on the couch with a stack of National Geographics somewhat on the coffee table and otherwise on the floor or her own legs.
"I wish I didn't care," Molly said dully. She flipped through a magazine without looking at the pages.
Briefcase down, wingtips kicked off, jacket hung up. Deborah went to protectively loom over her wife. "Okay, who do I need to kill?
"You're sweet. Sit with me." Molly tossed away the magazines and the blanket in order to cling more effectively. "Today was among the shittiest days I've had since I've switched to working in a psych ward. More than any of the ones with incidents that literally involved someone shitting a bed or their pants from rare side effects or something."
Deborah kissed her temple and stroked her hair. "That's pretty damn fucked up."
"Mm. Oh, I checked on the slow cooker. It's just keeping the stew warm now. Dinner doesn't need our involvement until we want to eat it."
"Great. I'll do the dishes after. What can I do right now to make you feel better?"
In wordless answer, Molly pressed a slow, tender, but nonetheless emphatic, kiss to Deborah's lips. It was only natural to wrap her left arm around Molly's waist and thread the fingers of her right other hand through that soft hair. The kiss lingered, comfortable and replenishing - like a lizard sunning itself, needing to be warm before it could move again.
After all these years together, their mutual choreography had become ingrained. They could improvise without mistiming the basic steps. Molly leaned back a few degrees, Deborah's arm steadying her. She lightly traced Molly's eyebrows with her index finger, kissed her closed eyelids. Then on the neck, right at her pulse point. Let her sigh into it. Let her match her breathing and heartbeat, not too fast and not too slow.
This wasn't the revving-up sort of touching. This was the settling-down, grounding sort of touching. It had taken much longer to learn.
Eventually, Molly was ready to take a more active role, rubbing a hand up and down Deborah's spine, where the tension always grew and coiled through the day. She nestled against her. They fit. They knew how to fit.
"I wish I could tell you more," she murmured.
Deborah wrapped both arms around her. Sometimes she wished they could merge for a little while and be one organism, cover each other's frailties. Like that cartoon about super queer lady gemstones that her niece and a few of her staff really liked. But only way she knew to handle casualties and sorrow was to write her own deliverance. To learn the truth and light it up, dissect it, render it understood and notable, make it unable to haunt her anymore. When Molly got worked up over confidential stuff that couldn't be dealt with like that, Deborah felt adrift.
"Maybe you could talk to coworkers about it? Like, the ones who might make you feel better." Deborah had been the audience to many a rant about Molly's confusing rivalry with Kitty Livingston in Catering, for example.
Deborah had met several of Molly's coworkers over the years, and was especially fond of two of the other nurses at Vernon. Paul Revere had been her close friend for decades, a real sterling guy. He'd given her a loan to help her launch her news site. Though introducing her to Molly had been the best thing he'd ever done for her. Meanwhile, John Hancock had negotiated for Deborah to be permitted more access to the less sensitive medical records from Vernon than most people would. Her team had been working on a story about a hideous potential healthcare bill that would have slashed benefits for psychiatric needs.
She knew Molly got along well with Eliza "It's a Good Thing Our Marriage is Stable Because That Woman is Far Too Lovely a Human Being" Schuyler, too, along with a few others. Doctor Washington's wife had struck up a rapport with Molly during employee-plus-one events. And so on.
"I want to run and cry on Martha Washington's shoulder, but since she doesn't work there, I wouldn't be able to share details." Molly said, muffled by Deborah's chest. It wasn't the most substantial of chests, and Deborah was happy with that, but Molly was well and truly ensconced in there. "I wish I didn't care so much, especially about the ones who are all fractured inside. Have you heard the Greek myth about some women doomed to try to carry water from one place to another, but their vessels are full of holes? I feel like that, except instead of carrying water to a place, I'm trying to get it to suffering people."
"That's why I'm the kind of person to meant to fight the villains, not fix the victims." She tucked Molly's head under her chin as if it would facilitate the melding process. "You're both, baby, you know that, right?"
"I don't really want to stop feeling, because that's what makes it meaningful, but..." Molly pulled back just enough to look Deborah in the eye. "I need to stop wasting time on tears."
"I wouldn't call it wasting time if it helps you." Gauging the situation, Deborah decided they could use a little levity. "Your allusion reminds me. Did you see that new viral tweet going around demanding that Buzzfeed make a 'Which Tormented Resident of Hades are You?' quiz?"
Molly gave her a crooked smile. "They've got to include Hades himself, right? Just like a similar quiz for Dante's Inferno would require Satan as the ultimate prisoner."
"Persephone's definitely on the docket. Am I changing the subject too soon?"
Shaking her head, Molly further untangled herself and started gathering up the magazines, making a stack. "I'm going to let it rest. Did you hear about a new op-ed on the Nellie Bly musical that made a reference to you?"
Deborah's eyebrows shot up. "Maybe tell me more over dinner? If you're up to it. I've been ravenous for hours and don't want to be tempted to literally eat you."
"You mean the tears of your enemies haven't filled you up?" Molly gave her a crooked smile and put the stack in the middle of the table.
"I appear to metabolize them too quickly," Deborah said with exaggerated regret. "I'll change into pajamas too. Seems silly to change twice when we could be having a bittersweet slumber party."
"Best kind." Molly let herself be helped up.