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Whenever I'm wrong, just tell me the song and I'll sing it
She's not sure how long they kiss for, it feels like days and it feels like seconds. She's sure of one thing; it's not enough. Not when she was entertaining the prospect of never kissing Charity again just minutes ago. She clings to the back of Charity's jacket with her left hand, her right still caressing her face as they part. Charity doesn't move away, the tips of their noses brush and warm breath washes over her moist lips. Vanessa's whole body feels like it's sighing; the tension and anxiety that's been plaguing her since Charity walked out of her house the day before are melting and leaving her almost shaky with euphoria.
She searches Charity's eyes for any sign of uncertainty and finds none. Charity's looking back at her with that special kind of warmth that Vanessa's pretty certain is reserved only for her and she wants to cry because she's overwhelmed by it all. She threads her fingers into Charity's hair and scratches lightly, bringing her forward the tiny distance needed to bring their foreheads together.
"You're sure?" she whispers. "I don't want to...I don't want you to feel pressured into anything."
"I'm sure," Charity tells her, pressing a firm kiss to her lips again and pulling her closer. Vanessa feels Charity's forehead scrunch up just before she draws back to look at her. "Babe, how many coats are you wearing? It's like cuddling the blimmin' Michelin Man."
Vanessa lets out a surprised laugh. "It's, uh, it's a bit parky out."
Raising her eyebrows, Charity starts to push her body warmer. "Well, since we're not outside, maybe you could lose one or two layers, yeah?" Her hands freeze in their movements and she looks at Vanessa. The vulnerability in her eyes cuts straight into her chest. "I mean that is, if…if you're staying."
Vanessa finishes what Charity started, shrugging out of her body warmer and then her jacket. "I'll stay as long as you want me to," she says, making sure to hold Charity's eyes as she says the words, ensuring they are heard and understood.
Charity nods, a smile softening the worry around her eyes. "Right, well, why don't you go and hang those up in the back and I'll set the lot of you up with some drinks, eh? On me."
"Get them two sorted out and then come through the back for five minutes, eh?" Vanessa asks. When Charity's mouth opens to protest, Vanessa hurries to continue. "No therapy sessions, I promise. I just...I just want five minutes with you without prying eyes."
"Fine," Charity says, with a little sigh, clearly wary of whatever Vanessa wants to say. "But I don't know where Chas has got to so-"
At that, there's a crash from the backroom that makes Vanessa jump, shifting closer to Charity, who puts a hand on her back. The next minute, Paddy slopes through from back, not sparing them a glance as he rounds the bar and walks straight out of the pub. Vanessa turns to Charity and they exchange confused frowns.
"Well, I'll go and hang this up, shall-" Vanessa's not finished speaking when Chas charges into the bar, casting her eyes around and nodding in satisfaction.
"Everything alright?" Charity ventures. She's braver than Vanessa; no way she'd have spoken to Chas when she had that look in her eyes.
"Everything is just rosy, Charity, thanks for asking." Chas' gaze drops to where Charity's hand is still on Vanessa's back. "Oh. I see love's middle-aged dream is back on."
"Oi, you," Charity snaps. "Just because Paddy's been an idiot, again, you don't have to be rude, alright?"
"Charity Dingle, lecturing me on being rude?" Chas turns to face them and crosses her arms. "Well if that isn't the biggest-"
"Uh, Chas," Vanessa interjects, before one of them says something they'll regret. "I need to borrow her for five minutes. Would you mind getting Tracy and my dad a round? It's on Charity."
Chas lifts an eyebrow. "Getting generous in your old age?"
"Better than getting preg-"
"Right, Charity, let's go," Vanessa says, dragging her by the arm. She glances over at Tracy and receives a wink and a thumbs up. Her dad offers a tight smile that she can't be bothered thinking about right now and she pushes him from her mind as they head through to the living room, depositing her jackets on the coat hooks on the way.
Once they've closed the door, and exchanged a confused look over the cactus on the floor, Charity turns to face her, arms folded over her chest, looking ready to do battle. "So, what is it you want to say now?"
Vanessa shakes her head, moving towards Charity and gently uncrossing her arms and moving them so they're around her waist. She lifts her own arms and slips them underneath Charity's, tugging her close and resting her head against her shoulder. "Nothing," she mumbles, smiling when Charity's arms tighten around her. "I just wanted this."
"Oh." The single word is breathed into her hair and she closes her eyes when Charity rests her cheek against her head.. "Well, I s'pose we can do this for a bit."
Charity's hand moves up and down her back. She feels Charity's ribs lift and drop as she lets out a breath. Vanessa knows it means she wants to say something, so she picks up her head and leans back, looking into Charity's eyes. "What?" she prompts, gently.
"What?" Charity parrots. Then she shrugs and shakes her head. "Nothing. It's...it's nothing."
"It's something," Vanessa says, keeping her voice even so as not to sound confrontational. The last thing they need right now is another argument. She won't push much more than this, though, because she doesn't have a right to hear Charity's thoughts. Not yet. Not after what she did.
Charity sighs, her hand comes up to toy with the collar on Vanessa's shirt. "It's just...I saw Megan at the cafe earlier. She, uh, she said-" Charity rolls her eyes like she thinks what she's about to say is preposterous. "She said you'd been crying on Tracy's shoulder all day."
Vanessa frowns. "'Course I was." Charity looks at her, her head shaking slightly from side to side, like she's disagreeing. "Charity, I was crying all night last night and most of today."
"Over me?" She sounds so confused that it breaks Vanessa's heart. This woman, so outwardly brash and ultra-confident, doesn't actually believe anyone would be upset over the prospect of losing her.
"Yes, over you," Vanessa tells her, tightening her arms around her waist. "I was…" Her stomach clenches as she remembers thinking about Charity sleeping with that, that man, and she closes her eyes tight. "I felt sick because I thought I'd ruined everything. Everything that we had, everything we'd built." She lets out a shuddering breath and opens her eyes, looking up at Charity with a sad smile. "I was gutted. Properly gutted. I thought I'd lost you."
Charity's hand comes up to stroke along her eyebrow and down her cheek. She smiles, but it's sad. "Most people would see that as a blessing, buttercup."
"Not me," Vanessa says, shaking her head. "Charity, this is the best relationship I've ever had." The twin furrows between Charity's brows deepen at that and Vanessa hurries past it so as not to let her probe the statement. "And I nearly threw it all away because I couldn't control my stupid temper and keep my mou-"
A finger covers her lips. "Enough," Charity tells her. "I know why you did it." She looks down at the floor, shuffling her feet. "I...I know you thought it was the right thing to do."
"But I broke your trust," Vanessa puts in, her throat tightening to the point of pain. "And I'll never forgive myself for that. And I know it'll take a lot for me to win it back, if I ever can." She takes Charity's hand and brings it to rest against her chest, squeezing her fingers as she looks into her eyes. "But Charity, I'm gonna do everything in my power to do just that, okay?"
Charity's eyes are shining with tears as she nods. "Okay." Her gaze drops from Vanessa's eyes to their joined hands, her brow creasing as she runs her thumb over the bandage Vanessa's wearing. "Does this still hurt?"
Vanessa shakes her head, squeezing Charity's hand to show it works fine. "Not really. A twinge now and again, that's all."
Swallowing hard, Charity's eyes close, her thumb still stroking Vanessa's hand. "I am so sor-"
"No." Vanessa's voice is firm, and so are her fingers when they lift Charity's chin, waiting until their eyes meet. "It was a stupid accident. It wasn't your fault and I don't want you thinking it was." Charity lifts the hand to her mouth, pressing a kiss on her knuckles and then another lower down, her lips brushing the edge of the bandage. Vanessa's breath hitches and she surprises both of them with the intensity of her voice when she whispers. "Take it off."
Gentle fingers leave her waist where they've been resting and come to join the ones holding her hand. Charity holds her gaze as she starts to slip the bandage off, slowly and deliberately. The fabric slides over her skin like the silk underwear Charity's peeled off her too many times to count and she thinks she might whimper a little when it comes off fully. Charity bends her head, cradling her wrist in her hand, and presses a soft kiss to her wrist bone. And another to the back of her hand. She drags her lower lip over the veins on the underside of her wrist, before pressing a kiss there, leaving her mouth to rest against the steady beat beneath the skin. Vanessa's left hand comes up to thread into Charity's hair, urging her up so their eyes can meet. Charity's are a darker green than they were a moment ago, and brimming with hopeful affection.
"All better?" she asks, in a whisper.
Vanessa nods. Her voice is untrustworthy, so she uses touch instead, lifting her newly naked hand and pressing it to Charity's cheek. Charity tilts her head, pressing her face into the contact.
"Did you mean what you said before?" she asks, eyes flitting briefly downwards and back up to Vanessa's. "About us...about this being the best relationship you'd ever had?"
Again, Vanessa nods, cursing herself for putting too much out there so early in their reconciliation. "Y-yeah." Her voice only wobbles slightly. "By miles."
And that's what does it, those are the words that unlock the smile she's been waiting for. The one that's unreserved and bright and touches every part of her face.
"Yeah?" she asks, although it looks like she doesn't need the affirmation, but Vanessa nods anyway, meeting Charity's smile with one of her own. Charity dips her head, leaning in until her lips are barely brushing Vanessa's, whispering against them. "Me too, kid." And she kisses her.
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