This comes from the 64 Damn Prompts on LiveJournal (by rashaka), and is a way for me to overcome my writer's block. I will, most likely, be working through all 64 at some point, because I can't bear to leave such a lovely thing unfinished. I will also include the song that helped me write it/find inspiration/that I thought fit the mood.
P.S.~ These were supposed to be drabbles—by which I mean 100 words—but my brain exploded, so they are not. Forgive me.
Prompt 1: 2 a.m.
Music: Falling In, by Lifehouse
Two in the morning, and she was standing outside in the driveway, still, wondering whether she should go back or just pitch a tent and camp. It wouldn't be the first night that neither one of them had swallowed their pride and simply apologized, and she knew that, between them, it wouldn't be the last. They were both terribly, terribly proud, to the point of pain—pain to themselves and pain to each other.
With a sigh, Tabby tipped her head back and stared up at the sky. There were no stars, given all the light pollution from the city, but the moon hung misty and vague on the horizon, nearly full and providing more than ample light for her to continue standing where she was for hours. She would, too—keep standing, that is. As much she loved the woman, she drove Tabby fucking nuts with her arrogance and talent and grace and beauty.
In the former two ways, they were all too alike. In the latter two, Tabby felt as though she would never catch up. There was too much distance between them, too much of a void. "Time is the space between me and you," Tabby remembered from an old song. And really, there was too much time between them. She always felt like a child in comparison, as though she was an infant and her lover—was that the right word? Lover? Girlfriend was too casual, partner too formal; sex-friend didn't convey enough emotional investment, soul mate conveyed too much—and her lover a quietly aggravated older gentlewoman.
Her lover wasn't, not hardly, but it sometimes seemed that way.
The next line of the song fit, as well. "There's a light through that window." There was, their bedroom window sharply illuminated, stark in contrast to the surrounding darkness. She couldn't see anyone moving, but the presence of the light itself was enough to make her heart clench—a sure sign that, no matter what cold façade the other woman presented, it was simply a mask. Was she worrying, too, alone in the room they had decorated together, wondering if Tabby would come back, accept her back, allow herself to be accepted?
With everything she had, Tabby hoped that Marie was.
Sighing softly, Tabby took a step.
The tick of the clock was incredibly loud in the silent house, and only years of lessons in proper decorum kept Marie from fidgeting. Tabby was always in motion, always tangibly there, even when she was silent. Her absence now was harsh, grating, something that Marie—once so accustomed to being alone—couldn't accept.
A soft chime announced the half-hour, and Marie leaned forward, twitching the curtain away from the window ever so slightly. The figure in the driveway had not moved, half-turned away from the house, looking up at the serene, bloated moon with what Marie knew would be a pensive, almost longing expression. It nearly frightened Marie, whenever she saw it. There was something so distant about Tabby's face at those moments, something untouchable. She knew that Tabby cared for her, relied on her, but at whenever that expression took over, Marie feared that the younger woman would draw away from her, realize what a mistake it was for a young, vibrant artist with so much passion and fire and talent to have taken up with a ruthless, emotionally stunted businesswoman old enough to be her mother.
Even now, Marie couldn't understand why Tabby had stayed, after their first night. It was supposed to be a one-off, after a chance meeting at a gallery that Marie had attended for a business function and at which Tabby was the featured artist. As much as she enjoyed art, Marie could admit—if only to herself, and in the dead of night—that the artist had held far more fascination for her than the paintings, as lovely as they were. She had probably fallen there, with their very first word, if she considered the night closely—which she didn't do often, because she was not one to overanalyze such incredible, astounding good fortune, no matter how Tabby teased her about it.
The loss of another quarter-hour chimed through the bright, brittle silence of the empty house.
Marie checked again. Tabby had not moved.
Not for the first time, she inwardly cursed her pride, even as she kept every emotion from showing on her face. It had been a stupid argument, something petty that neither one of them cared about overmuch. They were like that, as a couple, constantly arguing and snapping at one another, and usually neither minded. But, sometimes, true aggravation leaked through, and the words became sharp, biting, meant to wound and scar.
It was strange, awful, because Marie never truly meant to speak the vile poison that escaped her at such times, but it came spilling out nevertheless, the manifestation of every insecurity and fear in her heart that she would never otherwise show. At the very moment when she should have been drawing her lover closer, wrapping her in a warm embrace and pleading with her never to leave, the icy monster under her skin emerged and pushed Tabby farther away, all but demanding, ordering that she get out, that she vanish before she could dig himself any deeper into Marie's life.
Truthfully, Marie would have liked nothing better than for Tabby to dig in as deep as she could and stay forever, but another part of her—the part still wounded by her husband's death, still scared of any sort of warmth or human contact—part of her knew that if Tabby got any deeper, and then left, Marie would never recover from it.
Automatically, she edged the curtain aside again, glancing out.
Tabby was still there, and the tight band around her heart eased ever so slightly. She stood and turned, striding for the door.
It wouldn't be nearly this difficult to apologize, Tabby reflected, if she didn't love the emotionless bastard as much as she did. But she did love Marie, had loved her from the very first moment a beautiful, elegant businesswoman had turned from her fancy partners and friends and approached a young, terrified artist to compliment her on her work. And because she loved her, it was almost impossible to force the words I'm sorry past her lips.
She would try, though, if only to be able to say it just once before Marie came to her senses and tossed Tabby out on her ear.
Really, Tabby didn't know, couldn't understand why it had gone further than a single night. She hadn't expected anything more than a cursory goodbye after they were finished fucking, maybe at the most having Marie personally show her to the door. Never, in a thousand years, would she have expected the great Marie Ross, insanely wealthy empress of the computer industry, to invite her to stay the night, and then to stay for breakfast the next morning.
And then, after that, to stay for lunch, and dinner, and another night.
Before she knew it, Tabby had been living with her, near her, and it was more than could have ever asked for.
Her footsteps crunched on the gravel, almost obscenely loud, as she headed up the driveway, towards the spill of golden light that guarded the front door from the encroaching shadows of a weeping maple tree. They had planted the tree together, all of two years ago—one of their first actions as an official "couple"—and Tabby was inordinately fond of it. Her paintings, for months afterwards, had featured maple leaves and gracefully twisting trunks, green and deep wine-red and soft bark-grey—and still did, if to a lesser and more controlled degree.
She took another step, and the front door swung open.
Tabby half-expected Marie to toss her a neatly packed bag and tell her to be on her way, but instead, she stepped down onto the gravel—barefoot, Tabby noted with a sort of detached, amused concern. Since when does Marie go barefoot?—and crossed the last few steps that remained between them. They both came to a halt, a single foot of space the only thing separating them, and stared as though surprised not to see great changes from their last encounter, mere hours ago.
"I'm sorry," Tabby blurted, before her mind had a chance to actually process the words and stop them yet again. "What I said…it was out of line."
Marie looked startled for a moment, or as startled as she ever did, and then nodded slowly. "But true," she allowed. "I…apologize as well, for the same reason."
"Will you stay?" hung unspoken between them, as did "Do you really want an immature, temperamental artist?" and "Are you certain you want an old, inflexible, emotionless woman?"
Tabby smiled crookedly and stepped forward, brushing through all of the questions as though they were nothing but ancient, brittle cobwebs, until she could wrap one hand around the nape of Marie's neck and lean up to press their lips together. Marie responded, latching on to her like a drowning woman and pulling her close, and Tabby tasted forgiveness and repentance and want and need and stay, please stay all mixed up and intertwined. In that moment, she loved it, loved that the normally composed Marie could be reduced—elevated?—to nothing but a simple woman, desiring love and company and the throb of another heartbeat against her own.
It was forever, and yet hardly long enough at all, when Marie drew back, and Tabby pretended as though she had thought to do the same. They looked at each other for a few short, endless moments, and then Marie stepped back and opened the door wide, and Tabby smiled at her and stepped into their house, pulling Marie in behind her.
Somewhere, the clock struck three a.m., but neither of them heard it.