late nights and lazy afternoon
Bernie and Serena - friends to lovers.
one am, friends.
She wants to kiss her.
She’s all odd socks and fond expressions as she shuffles into the living room, glasses in one hand, bottle held aloft in the other. Her face is wiped clean of makeup, and a well-loved sweater (holes in the sleeve, paint on the hem) swallows her figure as she perches in front of Bernie on the coffee table, thrusts a glass towards her.
‘Just what the doctor ordered.’
Serena worries her bottom lip between her teeth, holds the bottle between her thighs as she uncorks it, nimble fingers and a furrowed brow and a constellation of freckles caught in the wrinkles that form on her nose; and she wants to kiss her.
The thought hits her square in the chest, takes the wind out of her, and she thought she might have been used to it; by now. Hoped she might be have able to brace for it, control it, fend it off. But her knees shake a little, like they always do. Her gaze fumbles, breaks contact, refocuses on the dark red of the wine, the slosh of the liquid into the glass. Her hands fidget, her jaw tightens, her shoulders square - her whole body committed to a gargantuan effort at self-restraint, an exercise in self-preservation which Serena watches, notices.
She is, convincingly, not alright; and she’s desperate to tell her. They’re couched in the middle of a comfortable friendship, close enough for no makeup, for her hand on her knee, for the middle of the night, and a sleep on the couch. There’s no anger, no rivalry, just easy flirtation and firm, steady loyalty, and she wants to talk to her about it, wants to tell her everything. She wants to tell her that today was horrid, today was fucked. She wants to tell her that she wanted to kiss her last week, wanted to kiss her this morning, wanted to kiss her on the drive home (the drone of the radio and the tattoo of the rain and her face, washed with the street light). She wants to tell her that every end of every nerve, every aching bone, every synapse, and the thoughts that leap between them, are screaming out to kiss her now.
But she won’t. Can’t. Shall not. She absolutely refuses, to ruin this - this careful affection, this unburdened adoration. She won’t do that to Serena, can’t do that to herself again.
‘Just -’ she breathes out, a trembling laugh, shakes her wild curls around her face. She lets a hand fall on top of Serena’s, pats it once, twice for good measure, teetering on the edge of a platonic gesture. ‘Just - wrecked.’
one pm, lovers.
She wants to kiss her.
She peers at her over the rim of her glasses, over the top of her book, eyes bright, mouth curved in a smile. Her bare feet knock against hers under the blanket, and her bare chest is covered (half-heartedly, haphazardly) by an grey sweater - unzipped, too long at the sleeve; and she wants to kiss her.
They spend the weekend in bed. They spend their weekend in a slow and joyous fumble - all nerves and naked bodies; anxious to relearn each other, in a rush to take their time. Contrition is swallowed in moans, and anxiety swallowed in laughter as they revise soft angles they had forgotten, discover ways to make each other fall apart.
They don’t talk about their broken hearts, barely mended. She knows they’ll have to, knows she wants to - soon, over coffee, over wine, over and over until they’re put back together. She’s spent months thinking about it, in cold and quiet hotels, in foreign countries, about how she ruined things; and she knows what she wants to say, how she wants to say it. But Serena had waved it away with a hand, last night, as she lay her head on the swell of Bernie’s stomach - had mumbled not yet into the soft skin near the jut of her hip; as the words had started to tumble from Bernie’s mouth. Not yet.
So they spend the weekend in bed, and she revels in the newfound intimacy, the ease with which she could kiss her, the ease with which she is kissed. They only leave for provisions, books and fruit and coffee, which sit precariously on the hills and valleys of their limbs under the quilt cover, which topple and fall (forgotten, broken) to the floor as she leans over now, props her chin on the top of the book, very close to her face.
‘Can I kiss you?’
Serena breathes out a laugh, then, lowers the book, lowers her glasses - a gentle nod; Bernie’s breasts pressed now against the warm fabric of her sweater, draped over Serena; mouth firm and soft now, against hers.
She wants to kiss her.
She kisses her.