“I’m sorry,” Kate said on the third day of negotiations. “I must have misheard you. In light of the death of Osgood’s sister, you want a treaty addendum that says what?”
The ceremony was brief.
Kate wore a simple peach dress. Osgood wore a nicer button-up shirt than usual, black slacks, an ivory bowtie. It took place on neutral ground, a park halfway between the Tower and the school the Zygons were using for their headquarters. The old oaks and neatly trimmed flower beds would have made the setting bucolic if not for the soldiers patrolling the perimeter to keep out civilians and terrorists alike. No family were in attendance; it would have been difficult to explain the high security presence if there had been. Politicians and generals, all in human form regardless of species, sat in folding chairs and watched the two women like hawks.
Kate still didn’t know what she was going to tell Gordon and Liz.
The relevant papers were already signed, but the powers that be–both human and Zygon, agreeing on something for once, which Kate tried to feel hopeful about even if the thing they were agreeing on was a complete farce– insisted on them acting this out for the symbolic value. So they did.
They held hands–Osgood’s were terribly sweaty, and she hadn’t stopped blushing from the moment she’d seen Kate with her flowers at the other side of the altar–and recited vows that they had not written, because this was not for them, this was for the safety and stability of the world, and so every word had been dissected and examined by linguistics and diplomats for months, rejected and reformulated and reworked until the words coming out of their mouths meant nothing at all.
Osgood tripped over her lines a few times, and Kate squeezed her hand in reassurance. It seemed to help.
There were rings, because that was a human thing, and then there was kneeling to each other with their heads bent and their hands facing away from each other, because that was a Zygon thing.
There were, very briefly, Osgood’s lips under her own, warm and soft.
And then they were married.
The hotel was another neutral location, because apparently the peace was so shaky that it couldn’t stand the symbolic weight of favoritism implied by either of them moving into the other’s flat. The silence between them on the cab ride over was a wall Kate didn’t know how to surmount.
The silence between them used to feel soft, like something she could lean back into.
She told herself she could make this sacrifice if it meant averting a war. They would work past this unease, eventually. Even Osgood couldn’t be awkward forever. And even if it never went back to the way it had been before, what was one friendship against the lives of–
Osgood took her hand.
Kate felt herself let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. She looked over at Osgood. The younger woman was staring straight ahead. Her fingers trembled slightly over Kate’s.
Kate leaned over, and pressed a gentle kiss against Osgood’s cheek.
A bit of awkward negotiating settled the issue of who was changing where; Kate emerged from the bathroom to find Osgood in a pair of baggy shorts and a Captains of Star Trek T-shirt. Osgood looked up at Kate and immediately blushed and looked away–Kate normally favored nightgowns of the short, silky, and lacy variety, but tonight she had decided to go with her set of teal vintage men’s pajamas, which were about as nonsexual and unthreatening an item of clothing as she could imagine. Evidently Osgood imagined otherwise.
“You look…nice,” Osgood said to the wall opposite.
“Love the T-shirt,” Kate said dryly.
Osgood blushed more.
She did really quite like the T-shirt. It was very Osgood, regardless of whether Osgood was really Osgood, or a Zygon copy. It was reassuring that whoever she was, there were still predictable things she would cling to for comfort.
It’s still me too, Kate wanted to say. I am still everything I have always been. Nothing has to change.
But of course everything was changing all around them, while they avoided each other’s eyes as they unpacked their suitcases and brushed their teeth and undid their hair. While they both avoided looking at the elephant in the room, the symbol of the artificial and yet too real thing now between them: the one, single, solitary bed.
They stood in front of it, finally, having run out of last-minute tasks and distractions.
“Right or left?” Kate asked eventually, because she was tired, and impatient, and she was damned if she was going to spend another second of this night on her feet, having to think and feel and make decisions for the good of the planet.
“Um, left, thank you.”
The sheets were soft, and smelled faintly of lavender. It was a nice hotel. Much nicer than Kate could have afforded if U.N.I.T. and the Zygon government hadn’t been footing the bill.
The thick walls kept out the raucous sound of late-night London, but the light still shone through, a pale glow dancing over the ceiling as Kate stared up at it. She should go to sleep. She wanted to go to sleep. It was just difficult, unexpectedly, to drift off into unconsciousness with the knowledge that someone–no, not just someone, Osgood--was beside her. Surely it hadn’t been this long since she’d shared a bed with another person? Since she had lain so close to another body, heard the steady rise and fall of their breath, felt the heat of them, the way they shifted slightly against the mattress only a few feet away?
“Kate?” A slight rustle of blankets, a small nervous sound as Osgood wet her lips. “Could we hold hands?”
Kate twisted to face her, startled. The younger woman was staring resolutely at the ceiling, her hands fidgeting slightly against her sides. She looked so young without her glasses. She always looked young, but now she looked positively adolescent.
It made Kate feel incredibly old and unworthy.
“I mean…” Osgood twisted the hem of her shirt between her fingers. “Just hands, just if you’re comfortable with it, obviously, if you’re not, forget I said it, just–”
“Inhaler,” Kate said gently.
Osgood shook her head, took a deep breath instead. “I just mean, if this–well, the rest of our lives. I don’t want us to go all that time without–”
“Affection?” Kate filled in when it looked as though Osgood wasn’t going to be able to force the word past her lips.
Osgood nodded gratefully.
Kate turned more fully towards her, closing the gap between them by a few more inches. She let her hand rest next to Osgood’s. “You could pursue another relationship, you know. I couldn’t exactly object.”
Osgood looked at her then. “You could too. I wouldn’t–I know this wasn’t exactly your first choice.”
Kate smiled wryly. “Yours either.”
Osgood looked away.
“And I couldn’t, really,” Kate went on, trying to ignore the twist in her stomach at Osgood’s reaction. “The political fallout if the Zygons found out I was seeing someone else–I’m not having war declared just because I can’t keep it in my pants.”
Osgood snorted. “You think U.N.I.T. would react any better if I was seeing someone?”
“I would make them react better,” Kate said firmly. She took Osgood’s offered hand, and felt the relief in the fingers that closed around hers.
They lay together silently for several long moments, but the silence was less fraught than it had been before.
“I still don’t want anybody else,” Osgood said softly after a while. “It would just be–too hard. Finding somebody, and then maybe they don’t even like me, and even if they do they’d always be in danger because they’re linked to me, and I’d have to lie to them, or at least not tell them the whole truth. This is–I know we didn’t have a choice, not really. But if I had to get married to someone, I’m really glad it’s you. I’m really glad that–that you’ll be here.”
Kate’s eyes were unexpectedly wet.
“That’s sweet of you to say,” she said when she was confident in the levelness of her voice.
Kate ran her thumb over the back of Osgood’s hand. Osgood really did have rather nice hands. Soft, not callused from garden work and guns like hers. “So what did you think of the wedding? Did it compare to the other one?”
Because of course, Osgood wasn’t just marrying her.
Osgood had also married a Zygon.
Things like this got written into treaties when you were the physical embodiment of the peace, and went around insisting on not telling people what species you were.
“Exactly the same,” Osgood said. “Right down to the flowers.” She snorted softly. “Well, I suppose I was carrying them, then, so that’s different. And Dz’on did insist on looking like David Beckham for the ceremony. I think he was trying to make me laugh.”
Kate found herself wishing suddenly, fiercely, that she had done something to make Osgood laugh.
Osgood’s fingers flexed around hers lightly. “I’m glad I’m spending the first six months with you, though.” Her body tensed a little at the admission.
“Oh?” Kate tried to sound casual, though her heart had started hammering. Osgood did sound relieved, but why? “Is he…” she cast about for a discreet phrasing. “He is treating you all right?”
Osgood stiffened. The lines of her body radiated offense. “Zygons aren’t barbarians, you know.”
“I didn’t mean–“ But she had meant. She had worried. Osgood could be so vulnerable–“Sorry. I’m sure he’s–I didn’t mean it to come out like that.”
A pause, Osgood weighing the sincerity of her response. Then a sigh, and she said, “He’s treating me very well. He’s very polite.” She paused again. “He’s also very gay.”
“Ah.” Relief flooded her, a rather disproportionate amount attached to the last sentence, even as she wondered exactly how sexual orientations would work with a shape-shifting species.
“His lover’s been very understanding,” Osgood went on. Kate heard her swallow, and then the younger woman dove back into their previous subject matter: “That’s why–it wouldn’t cause a war. If you did pursue somebody. It would even things out. They’d probably all breathe a sigh of relief if you did.”
It stung slightly, despite it being a fake marriage, that not two hours into their wedding night her wife was pushing her into someone else’s hypothetical arms. Kate shrugged it off. “The dating pool of ‘not under my direct command’ and ‘can be told why I have a wife’ is a bit small.”
Osgood’s voice was meek. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be.” Kate bit the bullet and gave Osgood’s arm a slight tug until they were not quite spooning, her arm draped over her wife’s side, their fingers still tangled. “I wasn’t exactly the best at relationships before this anyway,” she admitted to Osgood’s back. “At least this way, there’s someone around to give me a Heimlich maneuver if I start to choke on my dinner.”
Osgood laughed, the most genuine laugh Kate could remember hearing from her in months. It warmed her deep inside. She cuddled back into Kate, cozy and soft. “As long as you do the same for me.”
Osgood closed her eyes, tucking their joined hands under her head. There was still a small smile on her face. “We should have put that in our wedding vows.”
They stayed in the hotel for a week–to be more accurate, their belongings stayed at the hotel for a week, and they mostly stayed at work, falling asleep at their desks unless the other one ran across them and, chiding them, called a cab to take them back to their bed. At the end of the week, their new house had been thoroughly vetted by more security forces than Kate could count, and they were allowed to move in.
It was disconcerting, though not exactly unpleasant, to see their belongings mingle together as the house filled up: Osgood’s boots next to her heels, Osgood’s signed superhero posters next to her Mary Cassatt prints. The family pictures, Kate’s dad and Tom Osgood peering out of their frames at each other in a way Kate imagined to be slightly relieved, seeing a familiar face in the sea of relatives who still hadn’t been introduced to each other, Chloe and Susan and Gordy and Liz.
It was strange, there was no denying it, all the differences and similarities to the last time Kate was married. No romance, of course, no flowers or sweet nothings, obviously no sex–they were really more like awkward roommates than anything. But despite all the obvious differences, it was also so very nearly the same, because she had stood up before God and everyone and promised to spend the rest of her life with someone. And she had meant it, even though it hadn’t worked out the last time.
They settled into a routine. It included certain bits of ritualized affection that gradually became less awkward, more commonplace. There was a goodnight kiss on the cheek before they climbed into bed, and hand-holding for a bit after. They didn’t hold each other again–Kate wouldn’t have been averse, precisely, but she wasn’t sure how to bring it up, and since Osgood didn’t say anything on the subject she let it lie, not wanting to pressure her. There was a good morning kiss on the cheek when they woke up, at first after brushing teeth because Osgood was shy about morning breath, but eventually just the first thing she did before swinging her feet out of bed to fetch Kate a cup of coffee. Another kiss, this one on the lips for show, just before they went their separate ways in public–chaste, but more than a peck, lingering for just a second. Kate’s lips always tingled for a few minutes after, and Osgood still blushed a bit, her cheeks going pink just at the very top. Evenings when they weren’t off saving the world, the two might sit closer than strictly necessary under a blanket as they read or watched telly–Star Trek or the latest comic book adaptation if it was Osgood’s turn, ‘Murder, She Wrote’ or a Roger Corman movie if was Kate’s.
Sometimes Osgood took Kate’s hand under the blanket, and Kate squeezed it–she always let Osgood initiate the contact; she would be damned if she was going to take advantage.
Sometimes Osgood would be doing something completely ordinary, and it would hit Kate all of a sudden: This is my wife. We are married. I am married to her. It was political, it was a sham, and it still bowled her over every time. Osgood pouring milk into her cornflakes. Osgood curled on the couch in her sock feet, reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a little smile playing about her face. Osgood lying asleep, her long dark hair fanned out over the pillow. Osgood. Her wife.
Unspeakably powerful, the tenderness that suffused Kate in those moments. Like being transfixed by a ray of light, like her heart was expanding inside her chest.
Surprisingly little changed at work. Captain Carter did spend a few weeks experimenting with how many times he could make Osgood reach for her inhaler by teasing her about her ‘missus,’ though that had stopped after the time he failed to notice Osgood frantically making ‘Kate is right behind you at this very moment’ gestures. Not that Kate had done anything but raise an eyebrow meaningfully at him; there was no malice in Carter. No malice in any of their coworkers, really, though there was gossip, whispers sometimes, and sidelong looks, and, though Kate wasn’t supposed to know about this, some kind of betting pool. The whispers always stopped when she entered the room. She considered the rumors a small price to pay, and probably inevitable–you could firebomb the Earth and the small pockets of survivors would probably chat about the personal lives of other groups of survivors as they huddled together in their bunkers. On the whole people seemed to understand that it had been a treaty provision, and if a few outliers thought that Kate and Osgood had been sleeping together for years, it wasn’t as if there was any proof for them to find.
She was aware of Osgood’s body restless in the bed beside her, twisting and turning, but it had been a long day and she was tired, and so she didn’t fully awaken until she heard the sound of crying.
Once she heard that sound, she couldn’t have fallen back asleep for all the tea in China.
“Osgood?” She sat up in bed, reaching blindly out in the dark. “What is it?”
A sharp inhalation, and the sound grew more muffled. “Nothing. I–It’s nothing.”
“It’s clearly not nothing,” Kate pointed out. Her eyes were still adjusting to the darkness, Osgood a curve of deep grey on the bed, silhouetted against the white wall. Hesitantly, she touched the other woman’s shoulder. It was trembling.
“Nightmare,” Osgood said. Her voice was trembling too, and wet.
“Ah.” Kate’s fingers spread of their own volition, gripped tight and deep at Osgood’s shoulder in solidarity. She knew this moment in the darkness from her own experience, dreams chasing her down after every battlefield decision she had made, every blood-spattered adrenaline rush and every casualty report she had read after–she knew the sour metallic taste of it in the back of her throat, the knowledge in her shaking hands that she might have survived the horror but she had left something of herself behind, the near-Arctic isolation of facing that aftermath in an empty bed–or one that might as well be, for all that you could speak of such things to the person lying next to you.
Osgood wasn’t a field operative. She never should have had to face that.
But of course she was facing it today, because if Kate had been paying attention she would have realized, today was–“Your sister.”
A small sound, as if Osgood had been stabbed. Then: “Yes.”
Osgood so pleased and proud in her bright red bowtie and floral patterned shirt, and Kate only proud, proud near to bursting at her competent, brilliant assistant–they had the Doctor and the Master in custody, they were going to save the world, they had no idea--
Osgood had turned her face in slightly towards Kate’s hand on her shoulder, and she could feel the tears against her fingers. “I could always feel her.” A ragged whisper. “Not specific things, not unless I focused, but her feelings. Her heartbeat. I was never alone.” Her voice broke. “I felt alone my whole life, but then she was there and she was my sister and we always had each other. We were always together. We were always close.”
Kate’s heart was stretched on a rack, it was suspended above burning coals. Oh, Osgood. Her assistant, her wife, her friend, who had held this all inside, who had wept and wept and wept and never let anyone see.
“I felt her die.”
And the way Osgood’s voice broke again on that last word, as if she were reliving that exact moment all over again, as if the loss of it had stabbed her so deep she would bleed out right here in this bed–the sound of that cracked something open inside Kate.
She had pulled Osgood to her before she realized it, wrenching her into the protection of her arms, one hand still firm on her shoulder as the other pressed Osgood’s wet cheek against her own, fingers tangling and stroking those long dark locks that tumbled loose around her hand. Osgood was shaking like a leaf against her, her breath hot and uneven against her skin, and Kate wanted nothing more than to steady her, to hold her together that she would not break more, and she pressed closed-mouth kisses all over her face, her forehead and her cheek and her eyelids and the tip of her nose and her temple, as if the touch of her lips could turn back time, erase each fault-line and fracture in the younger woman’s heart.
Osgood froze a second before returning the embrace, her arms wrapping around Kate desperately even as her hands shook where they met at the small of Kate’s back. She gave a watery hiccup. “I’m s–sorry,” she whispered. “Thank you, I’m sorry, this has to be making you uncomfortable…”
“Why would you say that?” Kate asked softly. She brushed her lips against Osgood’s eyelids again, feeling the hot teardrops on her eyelashes. She squeezed her wife tighter against her. You are safe. You are here with me. You are safe here with me and I will never, ever let anything hurt you like that again.
Osgood was quiet for a long time, and when she spoke, her voice held a different flavor of grief, more a kind of resignation. “You haven’t wanted to…cuddle. Since our wedding night.” Kate started to protest but Osgood overrode her, her voice quiet but firm in the dark night. “I understand. Even if you–well, you don’t really know what species I am, you’re–I don’t hold it against you or anything.”
“And what exactly are you not holding against me?” Kate asked. She had a pretty good idea, but she didn’t want to believe it unless Osgood said it out loud.
“That you don’t trust me.”
And there it was, that sharp stabbing pain of truth, the way it lanced between her ribs like an assassin’s blade, one she had forged herself. Oh, I deserved that. I deserved that.
She pressed a kiss, as fervent as she could make it while still remaining chaste, against Osgood’s jaw until she trusted her voice again to speak. “I don’t give a damn what species you are.”
“You can say that, but I know you. You’re a scientist. You’ll always wonder. Which one I am. If it was the human Osgood who died on the plane, if you should be mourning or relieved–”
“I don’t care,” Kate insisted, and she realized as the words left her mouth that they were true. “It doesn’t change what this is, it doesn’t change anything that’s happened since then–“ Kate sighed, feeling how tense Osgood still was in her arms. She dropped a softer kiss just below her wife’s ear. “You don’t have to tell me,” she went on, “but if you were–“ she hesitated, but soldiered on– “but if you were–if you were tired of holding this shape all the time–I would be willing to try. Being around you like…how you really are. However that is.” Her fingers stroked the soft skin of Osgood’s neck, the long tracks of tears there. “Holding you like this, if you wanted. I wouldn’t tell.”
Osgood’s voice was disbelieving. “You would do that? If I were…”
“Well, a bit of advance warning would be nice,” Kate said dryly.
“So you don’t shoot me?” Osgood was trying to joke, but the way her voice quavered made it clear the tension between them was still there.
“Something like that,” Kate admitted.
Silence. Her pajama front was soaked with tears, Osgood’s body heavy in her arms. A sense of foreboding roiled in Kate’s stomach. She had ruined it, she had fucked it all up beyond redemption. Osgood had needed solace, and the only person she could turn to was this parody of a wife, nothing to offer but platitudes and promises and sad, barely concealed longing for the beautiful heart and the young body of the woman pulled against her. Kate tried one more time to say what she really meant:
“You’re Osgood. I have mourned both of you. Whichever one you are, I married you. I made a promise--I want you to be happy.” She paused, her heart hammering. Too much? Not enough? “I want you to be happy here with me.”
Osgood’s shoulders slumped then, and her body finally loosened, her head falling into the refuge of Kate’s neck. There was a brush of lips against her collarbone, accidental or purposeful, Kate could not tell.
She did not answer yes or no to Kate’s proposal, but Kate had not expected her to.
It was enough to be allowed to hold her, to offer her comfort and know that her wife would take it.
Kate was careful to touch Osgood more after that. She kept it platonic–she had nightmares now where she went to hug Osgood and accidentally groped her, woke up with her heart aching in her throat at the look of betrayal and fear on dream Osgood’s face. But mindful of the fact that her previous caution had been interpreted in such a hurtful way, she initiated at least one touch a day: a hand on Osgood’s back as she passed her in the kitchen, a squeeze of her fingers before she took an offered cup of tea, an arm around her shoulders as Osgood pulled up ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ on Netflix–Kate had watched the original series with her babysitters, and both Gordy and Lizzie went through intense Next Generation phases that meant she knew most of it by osmosis, but she’d never seen any of the later series, a lack Osgood was determined to correct as soon as possible.
She was careful not to push the question of species, but she did reach out through her contacts for more information about Zygon history and culture, reading as much as she could.
Osgood, for her part, checked out every P.D. James and Agatha Christie book the local library had, and took to scouring shops for cuttings of rare plants–she couldn’t join Kate in the garden for too long before her asthma would send her packing, but she brought her lemonade, and snacks, and asked questions about the plants that proved she was paying attention when Kate went on one of her lengthy horticultural rambles. She would be smiling, sometimes, when Kate looked up at her, such steady fondness in her gaze that Kate would have to glance down at her hands to remind herself exactly what variety of iris or daffodil she had been expounding on.
My wife, Kate thought in these moments, and would become so dizzy it was a good thing she was already kneeling in the dirt.
There were, finally, the family introductions, a set of very slowly less awkward dinners. Osgood’s father made too many jokes, Osgood’s mother made too much food, Osgood’s older sister was very carefully, disdainfully polite in a way that set Kate’s hackles on edge, especially when she saw the effect it had on Osgood; Gordon couldn’t start a conversation to save his life, and Liz–it was the influence of that American university, Kate would swear–asked far too many personal questions, and blinked innocently when Kate called her on it. Still, nobody died, and everyone seemed to accept their cover story. Eventually, Liz stopped pestering Osgood long enough to bond with Tom over the joys of ham radio operation, Gordy managed to tender a question about the beef Wellington that had Susan bustling him into the kitchen to take advantage of his chef school expertise, and Chloe–well, you couldn’t win every battle, but Kate contented herself with the fact that she had stopped making veiled, plausibly deniable homophobic comments after only one pointed glare. All in all, the dinners became something closer to pleasant than painful in less time than Kate had feared.
My wife Kate thought as Osgood leaned back in her chair, her hands resting comfortably on her full stomach. She reached out without thinking to wind a strand of Osgood’s hair around her finger, and Osgood gave her a smile like the sun.
It was nothing like being married again, and it was exactly like it.
They settled into another routine, one shaped by these new shake-ups and introductions and discoveries but not so different than before. There was work, of course, and falling into bed directly after, but were also days off, lounging on the sofa together reading or watching telly. They bickered over who had used the last of the shampoo–it had been Kate, but she hadn’t realized, and she apologized with mumbled words and a packet of chocolate hobnobs she pushed across the table. There was a chore chart: Kate did the cooking, Osgood did the cleaning.
My wife, Kate thought in wonder as Osgood did the washing up, suds up to her elbows because she always put in too much soap. Her head was bobbing along to some bit of Dvorak or electronica on her iPod, and there was a soap bubble in her hair. My wife.
And this was the moment she realized that it was not a crush, not a mid-life crisis, not just the low-key loneliness of being so near someone and not near enough.
She was in love with Osgood.
The six months were almost up.
Soon, too soon, Osgood would be off to live the next half-year with her husband, and Kate didn’t know how she was live with all the empty spaces in the house she would leave behind. She was avoiding thinking about this and, in the meantime, she was finding as many excuses to spend time with her wife as possible, from lingering in the doorway to her office at work to initiating Star Trek marathons–Voyager was gradually growing on her, though she didn’t think she was ever going to quite reach the level of obsession Osgood had with Captain Janeway.
They were lying side-by-side on the couch after said marathon, reading–a worn paperback Asimov in Osgood’s case, an equally faded and broken-spined Highsmith in Kate’s–when she felt Osgood shiver. “Do you need me to turn up the–”
“That’s all right. Just--?”
“Of course.” She turned slightly so that she could pull Osgood closer to her, and the younger woman cuddled back into her under their blanket with a happy little sigh.
“Sorry I’m so rubbish at retaining body heat.”
“Nothing about you is rubbish,” Kate said softly, stroking Osgood’s arm over her sleeve. She abandoned the Highsmith novel as subtly as she could, letting her other arm slide under Osgood’s shoulders. She let her eyes slide shut for just a moment, willing herself to commit everything to memory for when Osgood was gone: the texture of her jumper against her cheek where she rested it against Osgood’s back, the vanilla smell of old paper, the way Osgood’s expressions mirrored each scene in the book, loss and love and delight.
Kate would have been more than perfectly content to spend the rest of her evening just like this, but oddly enough, Osgood–who normally only deigned to stop reading for urgent situations like alien invasions or a new episode of 'Supergirl'–dog-eared her page after finishing her current short story, and twisted around to snuggle into Kate’s chest.
“You’re going to fall,” Kate murmured, and shifted so that Osgood was no longer in imminent danger of tumbling off the narrow sofa, but was lying on top of her instead, and oh dear, she had really not thought this through.
Because Osgood was terribly warm, and smelled wonderful, and was making adorable little contented snuffling sounds as she snuggled further into her wife’s embrace, and the weight of her on top of Kate’s body was decidedly pleasant but awfully distracting, especially with her occasional shifts to get more comfortable, which inevitably put pressure on…various areas, and oh dear, she had just given the most blissful little sigh, and Kate had never been cursed with a terribly overactive imagination before but now it was all she could do to keep from imagining all this happening with a considerably less formal dress code.
She twitched awkwardly, apologetic. “Osgood, could you–“
Osgood’s eyes opened; she peered up at her, starting to push herself up off her wife. “Oh, sorry, is this uncomfortable?”
And Kate had been trying to be honest, lately; she had been trying to avoid the misunderstandings that cropped up between them and hurt Osgood so badly before. And so the words slipped out: “A little too comfortable, actually.”
Osgood froze, half-off Kate’s body, her eyes startled and wide. In that fraught moment, Kate wanted to call the words back down her throat; she would hunt down the Doctor and bargain away everything she had if he would show her a way to turn back time so she could unsay this.
But then Osgood lowered herself slowly back onto Kate, not breaking eye contact as her thigh settled between Kate’s legs, her gaze questioning. When Kate swallowed hard, Osgood grinned, surprise and joy lighting up her eyes. She leaned forward, and cupping Kate’s cheek, pressed a tentative kiss to her lips, still watching her intently for any sign of regret or disapproval.
Kate’s breath was trapped in her throat. She had one hand on Osgood’s hip and the other cupping Osgood’s cheek. She had no memory of how her hands got there, and she was finding it very difficult to care.
“I didn’t think you–“” Osgood started wonderingly, and then she had to stop talking because Kate had kissed her, quickly but firmly, before she could lose her courage.
“I do,” Kate said, with all the conviction she had.
And then they both remembered the last time Kate had said those particular two words to Osgood, and there was a brief case of the giggles that–
--well, that caused some very interesting sensations, which Kate mostly tried to conceal but evidently failed to do so, judging by the sudden gleam of interest in Osgood’s eyes and the slow, relishing way she began to rock her hips against Kate. Kate did not manage to stifle a gasp at that, her fingers digging further into Osgood’s hip.
Osgood ducked her head slightly, creating a waterfall of hair that she glanced up through, shy and bold at the same time. “We are married,” she pointed out, a smile quirking the corner of her mouth. “We could…explore. Stuff.”
Kate could not quite believe that this was happening. She trailed her fingers up Osgood’s side, not quite brushing a breast, appreciating the way Osgood’s eyes fluttered half-closed as she did so. She raised an eyebrow. “Stuff?”
Osgood blushed. “Things.”
Kate was quite sure Osgood could hear her heartbeat. Hell, it could probably be heard from space. “I would like to explore…things.”
And then Osgood was showering kisses on her, her cheek, her jaw, the line of her neck, and talking became superfluous for some time.
They pressed against each other, a little awkward, a little clumsy, relearning their bodies with the new lack of distance between them. It was inelegant and it was wonderful. The kisses were comfortable and exciting at the same time, the feel of her mouth so delightfully familiar and yet there a little thrill up Kate’s spine as if it were the first time she had pressed her lips to Osgood’s–and it was the first, no matter how many times they had kissed before, perfunctorily or for comfort or a scrap of affection, this was more than a scrap and it would never be enough, she could never get enough of Osgood and the taste of her skin and the passionate kisses she was pressing along Kate’s cheek, her jaw, trailing down the line of her neck, murmuring, “Is this okay?” as she sucked gently on her pulse-point, nipped at her throat–
Their hands were roaming greedily over each other’s clothes, and when Kate bucked upwards Osgood groaned and bent her head, kissing and sucking at Kate’s breasts through her blouse, leaving wet spots on the silk, and Kate nearly came undone for all that the sensation was limited by the barrier of fabric, because it was Osgood, it was Osgood she was watching touch her with such hunger, it was that image of Osgood’s worshipping mouth against grey silk that would be burned onto the back of her eyelids for the rest of her life–
There was no urgency. Kate felt filled with a warm steady hum of arousal, like honey and molten gold pooling in her limbs, sleepy and languorous and utterly at ease. Their bodies fit together like the answer to a question she didn’t know she had been asking, and she wanted nothing more than to savor every moment of this, would not think of rushing past this before she had properly treasured every rustle of fabric and gasp of appreciation, each flush of skin and each shiver beneath her fingertips.
The touches and kisses began to slow, though it took a long time before they stopped completely, Osgood pillowing her head on Kate’s chest, Kate’s arm curled around Osgood’s back, their clothes rumpled, both of them breathing heavily.
Kate hadn’t come, and she was fairly certain Osgood hadn’t either, but she didn’t mind. Plenty of time for that. She felt wonderful, filled with a warm sense of pleasant anticipation. She pressed a tender kiss to the top of Osgood’s head, felt it returned on her collarbone. “A successful expedition, do you think?”
She felt that smile even though the fabric. “Mm-hmm.”
Kate was fairly certain there ought to be a conversation at this point, something about expectations and boundaries and other matters, but it was still rather difficult to think about anything with Osgood right on top of her. She managed, “You’re all right with taking a more…scenic route?”
Osgood propped her chin up to shoot her a relieved smile. “I like scenic. Scenic is good. You don’t mind?”
“I had quite enough of the other in my misspent youth,” Kate said, smoothing down that mass of dark hair again. She felt quite certain she would never tire of touching Osgood’s hair. “I was wondering–“ silly the way her heart sped up, as if she hadn’t just spent the last half hour being snogged senseless by this woman– “if you would like to go out tonight. For dinner. I know a nice French restaurant that’s not too far–”
Osgood bit her lip. “Is it…fancy?”
“A bit?” Kate nuzzled at the crown of Osgood’s head. “We can go somewhere else if you like, of course. But I…well. I have a beautiful wife, and I would like to show her off, before she leaves.”
Osgood considered. “All right.” Then she grinned. “As long as we can do some more exploring tonight.”