Author: Dashed PM
Betty thought being a lesbian in the 1940's was bad enough without being in love with a preacher's daughter. Kate needed rescuing from her abusive father but that doesn't mean she has to accept Betty's deviance. Or her own. Betty/Kate.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Betty M. & Kate A. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 24,696 - Reviews: 37 - Favs: 65 - Follows: 35 - Updated: 08-13-12 - Published: 06-08-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8197102
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Just wanted to give special thanks to lovecatcadillac who kindly Beta'd this for me.
The morning was as awkward as Kate expected it would be. She honestly didn't know what was worse, the embarrassing exchange they engaged in as they both disentangled themselves and moved quickly from the bed, like suspects fleeing a crime scene, or the panic-filled dash Kate had made getting out of Betty's room. She would have curled up and died if anyone saw her leaving Betty's room in her night gown when it was so obvious that she had spent the night.
Betty seemed to sense that being around Kate right now would be more than either of them could bear, so she made herself scarce, or as scarce as one could be while working the same shift. It felt like Kate was on stage – no, not on stage, since she had loved her brief time on stage with Leon. It felt like Vic Mu had shrunk until the cafeteria was the only room in the whole factory and Kate was standing in the centre of the entire world. She held her plastic tray tightly as her eyes darted around the room.
She had made a promise to herself last night to protect Betty, but in the daylight hours keeping that promise felt about as easy as tearing down the walls of Jericho by herself. Her tray was shaking slightly as she moved forward with her head down. She would love to be able to strut as confident as Gladys, or Betty, or even give an unconcerned sashay like Vera, but really, her courage could only extend so far. Her shoulders were hunched and she stared pointedly at her water glass but she was moving forward.
The conversation at the table died as she approached. For an irrational second she thought that they would send her away. "Hey Kate," Vera smiled at her as she slid up a place and gave her the seat across from Gladys. "Have you heard about Gladys's racy letters from James?"
"They are hardly racy." Gladys rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Vera, the way that you're telling it, it's like James transformed himself into the next Marquis De Sade."
The conversation continued on, thankfully without needing Kate's input. It was all she could do to sit there and eat. Even her stomach seemed to be against her, tying itself up in worried knots. All around her, whispers had broken out. Kate just knew that they were all talking about her decision to sit at the same table as Betty. She could feel the speculation and gossip as clearly as if the words were physical things being thrown at her.
"You okay?" Gladys murmured to her as Vera and Edith continued to talk.
Replying verbally seemed beyond Kate for the moment as her throat shook, warning her that any words that came out of it would make a horrible warbling sound. Instead she just nodded and still didn't look up. She knew that if she did, she would see Betty looking at her, which would not calm her in the slightest. Betty's gaze had always had an effect on Kate but rarely was it a calming one. More often than not it made her feel anxious and eager to impress or please. Kate didn't think she could deal with anymore anxiety.
She was relieved when lunch was over and she could get lost in her work. It was easier to drown out the whispers and looks when she had explosive material near her. When the end of shift came, Kate didn't immediately stop and head to the showers like she usually did. Instead she slowly cleared down her work space, making sure to keep pace with Gladys and Betty's own cleaning so that they all finished and headed to the showers at the same time.
Kate swallowed hard, trying to keep down the rising panic that had come back with a vengeance. Mrs Corbett impatiently ticked them off of her clipboard as they began to undress. Most of the red shift workers were already on the floor but a few were still changing and chatting.
"I'll trust you girls to actually shower and clock out yourselves. I have important business to attend to and I won't be held back for your private shower time," Mrs Corbett said stiffly, glaring at Gladys because she always liked to glare at Gladys. Her eyes softened as she looked at Betty. "Keep them right, McRae," she ordered.
"Will do, Mrs Corbett," Betty affirmed.
"Teacher's pet." Gladys bumped Betty's shoulder as she shrugged out of her overalls. "Do you give her a shiny apple too?"
"No, but I'll be more than happy to give you a shiny eye, the way you keep giving me lip," Betty shot back.
"Betty! I have a fiancé, I wouldn't dream of giving you lip behind James's back. You'll just have to get it from some other girl." Gladys flung her towel over her shoulder, making sure to let the end hit Betty's scarlet face.
Kate spluttered. She nearly tripped and fell as she stepped out of her overalls. She could not believe how brazen Gladys was, joking about something like that, especially since there were still other red shift workers hanging around. Judging by the look of mortification on Betty's face, neither could she. Gladys's strut to the shower said more than words ever could about how pleased she was with their reactions.
"You coming, McRae? You're wasting private shower time," Gladys's smug voice came over the rush of water and the few remaining red shift workers shot annoyed glances towards her.
"That girl thinks she's so funny," Betty growled, the smugness in Gladys's voice pulling her out of her stunned silence. Her annoyance melted when she turned towards Kate. "I get what you're doing, and I'm – I'm really – well, it's pretty swell, considering things between us, but I can wait until you're finished. This might be pushing it," Betty's eyes flicked towards the showers before going back to stare at the tile wall beside Kate's head. She hadn't looked at Kate once the entire conversation.
Kate immediately felt relief and then guilt. She picked up her towel and shook her head. "I want things to go back to normal, I miss my friends," Betty looked guilty at that which made Kate feel like a right heel because she hadn't meant to make her feel that way. "I miss you too," Kate finished quietly and the honesty was freeing. "Part of being normal is doing this," she took a deep steadying breath and tried to seem resolute. Betty regarded her warily but didn't push it like she normally would have.
A the entrance to the showers Kate's resolution and calm fled as her nerves overwhelmed her throat and croaked out her insecurities. "You won't look right?" Kate asked and hated herself a little because she knew Betty wasn't a Tom crouching at a peep hole but that's how it felt.
Betty's entire face tightened and her jaw and eyes hardened like flint. When she spoke it was tightly controlled. "No, no I won't look."
Kate knew the question had offended Betty but she could feel herself relaxing at the reassurance. Her father had left even more scars on her back and the thought of anyone, epically Betty getting a good look at them, made Kate nauseous. "Good," she breathed and stepped into the shower.
"Bout time you two, I thought I was going to start pruning," Gladys looked ready to finish up but one look at their faces made her turn around and keep washing.
Betty hissed and Kate found that even though she had made sure Betty wouldn't look at her, she couldn't stop looking at the blonde. Under the harsh lights of the factory the marks on Betty's pale skin seemed even more livid. Without the cotton vest or night dress to conceal it the bite mark on Betty's shoulder leered wetly at Kate. Gladys raised her eyebrows at the marks too but wisely didn't comment.
Betty muttered something unpleasant as the carbolic soap sods washed over the nail gouges on the back of her thighs. Kate glared at the shower head and the wall, in any direction that wasn't Betty, because she could feel simmering anger rising in her stomach at the sight of those marks. She washed quickly and left. Gladys followed her soon enough, glad to be out of the shower.
Kate roughly towelled herself dry in jerking motions as she tried to hold in her temper. Betty came out of the shower and ran smack into Kate's glare. The blonde was taken aback and slowly went to dry and dress, casting Gladys confused looks as she did so. The tension in the room was thicker than the mist from the showers that curled about the ceiling.
Gladys, being Gladys, thought it was her duty to try force the mood to cheer up with all the skill and finesse of a steamroller. "So, Betty, as it turns out you seem to be getting more than lip from another girl. It seems you're getting teeth and nails too."
"Gladys," Betty said warningly as she pulled on her trousers.
"Oh, come now, Betty, you can't keep something like this from your friends." Gladys's smile could only be described as devilish. "Who is it-?"
"Late again, Clara? Keep this up and you'll have no job to be late to," Mrs White the red shift manager's voice cut off Gladys.
A red shift worker hurried in the door, with Mrs White on her heels with her own clip board. Betty froze her coat half on and Kate bristled like a hissing cat while Gladys stared at the newcomer with unashamed curiosity. Clara, the newly named red shift worker that Kate had been mentally referring to as a vile animal paused when she realised that she was the object of intense scrutiny.
Mrs White finished her rant and walked away muttering at her clipboard. Clara looked levelly at Betty, almost sneering, which made Kate's heart rate double. How dare this woman look at Betty in such a way after all she had done? Kate grabbed Betty by the wrist and she marched forward, with a pounding in her ears that sounded like war drums. She roughly barged passed Clara, no, the animal, and none too gently shoved her against the wall and out of her way.
"Hey!" Clara snapped.
Kate whirled around to face her so quickly that Clara flinched. "Do you have a problem?" Other than biting, Kate snarled inwardly.
"You shoved me," Clara said weakly, feeling the need to stand up for herself. A foolish need from where Kate was standing.
"That is the least you deserve." Kate drew herself up. She had never wanted to physically hit someone so much in her life. Clara shrank back, looking genuinely afraid, which she ought because how dare she hurt and mark Betty? How dare she make Betty seem so small?
"Kate," Betty said, trying to use her voice alone to pull Kate away. Even now, she was not sure if she was allowed to touch Kate.
Kate ignored her in favour of glaring at Clara. She looked small now, alone and terrified of Kate and her anger. Kate found that she enjoyed the look. It made her feel powerful, towering over the red shift worker. Her anger made her invincible, it made her strong, it made her … her father.
"Kate," Betty said again and this time Kate went.
"I guess that answered my question," Gladys said, stunned, as they left.
"... she shouldn't have made you cry," Kate said petulantly, plucking a blade of grass from the ground.
"She made Betty cry?" Gladys said, both outraged and shocked.
"I did not cry," Betty said defensively.
Kate looked sharply at Betty to sullenly contradict her protest. They sat on the hill at the park, using their coats to keep from getting soaked by the dew. They formed a little triangle on the grass with Kate as the point as they both wanted to know what had got into her.
"Well, you should have pushed her harder, then," Gladys said matter-of-factly. Kate looked at Betty triumphantly.
"Can we not talk about this?" Betty grimaced and rubbed her shoulder. The shoulder with the bite, Kate noticed with a scowl.
"Don't be so sore, Betty. It went south this time, but next time will be better." Gladys patted Betty's shoulder in sympathy.
"Next time?" both Kate and Betty said, equally alarmed.
"Yes, we'll go to the Tangiers or Sandy Shore and find you someone there." Gladys seemed
genuinely proud of her plan.
"You think it's that easy?" Betty snapped. "You're going to get me killed if you keep flapping the way that you do."
"Pssh." Gladys waved away Betty's concern which only enraged the blonde further. "We'll be discreet."
"You can't be serious, Gladys!" Kate was scandalised at the notion of Gladys furthering Betty's debauchery. She wanted to keep Betty safe and there was no way she could do that while she was running off casing girls due to Gladys's goading.
"Why not?" Gladys bristled snapping at them both. "Why shouldn't Betty be happy? She works just as hard as anyone else, and while she can be a hard-headed fool, she's honest and brave. I'm completely serious about helping my friend be happy and I see no malice or even sin in that."
That struck Betty dumb enough that she couldn't argue. Kate however felt her face heat as shame and disgust warred inside her in an unsettling and seemingly never ending conflict. Gladys tilted her chin up and looked at them imperiously, squaring her shoulders. She looked ready for a fight … but she had already won it.
"She can't find true happiness like that," Kate whispered to the grass, but she couldn't even sound convincing to herself.
"And why not? Because men like your father say so? I'm sorry, Kate. I know that even now you love him, but it is truly vexing how you can blindly follow the word of a man who marked you in such a vile way," Gladys said, steamrolling right over Kate's feeble protest.
Kate swallowed hard and couldn't look at them as she grabbed her coat and fled. She heard them both calling to her but she didn't slow. She wanted to believe her father was a good man. He had said he was only helping them, and Kate honestly believed that he believed that. So why had she left if she believed him? Simple, she couldn't take his type of 'help' anymore.
But it wasn't just her father's words that made her stomach roll at what Betty was. There was a tangled knot in her stomach that was bound up with what her father believed, what God said and what other people told her. Somewhere in that giant ball, she was trying to untangle what she believed. It was hard and frightening because she was slowly unravelling her whole world to find it. She couldn't help but resent Betty just a little for making her do this.
Kate had to stop running as the pain in her lungs and legs grew unbearable. She sat on a bus bench and tried to get her bearings. She was as physically lost as she was emotionally. Why did it have to be Betty? Why couldn't someone else have her perversion? Why couldn't Betty be normal? Kate and she could both marry men and have children. They could have two little girls and they would be best friends and grow up and live next door to each other just like their mothers. That future was so lovely and perfect and why did Betty have to ruin that by being the way she was?
Kate was panting but it wasn't from the run. Her breath was coming faster and faster and the tears pricked her eyes as she thought about the future Betty had robbed them of. How could Betty just march into Kate's life and shake it like a snow globe, causing a flurry of chaos in the beliefs that ordered Kate's world? Betty wasn't that amazing, she wasn't that good, she wasn't worth-
"Here." Kate looked up to see Betty standing in front of her, holding out an ice cream cone.
"It's mint chocolate chip. I got two saving bond stamps with them, you keep saying how you want to get a bond."
"You were my first friend." Kate's voice hitched and she ignored the stamps.
"I know," Betty said, holding her own 'Victory vanilla' ice cream cone sadly. "I'm sorry," she added, because she knew all the things Kate was thinking.
Kate felt the prickle at the back of her eye gain its first triumph as she welled up. Betty was amazing and good and worth all the heartache, because how could she not be? She chased down Kate after Kate had insulted her, bought her favourite ice cream even though Kate had only mentioned it once in passing and was now apologising for being who she was.
"I hate the thought of losing you," Kate used the napkin that came with the ice cream to wipe her eyes. "But it feels like I have, because I can't reconcile it, Betty. I thought it would be easier if I hated you, but I couldn't do that either. There's the you that I love and then there's it and – I can't hate you for it, but it won't let me..." Kate shook her head, she probably didn't make any sense.
Betty sat down beside her with a sigh and tucked the stamps into her pocket. She mirrored Kate's hunched pose as she ate her ice cream. "If it makes you feel any better," Betty said staring at the sidewalk, "I hate it too."
"That doesn't make me feel better." Kate turned towards Betty, her eyebrows together, framing her sad puppy dog eyes. "How could I ever feel better at something that makes you unhappy? Don't you know how much your happiness means to me, Betty?" All she wanted to do was make Betty normal and happy.
Betty went red and shifted away on the bench. "You shouldn't say things like that to me Kate."
"It's true," Kate said earnestly, wanting Betty to believe her. She wasn't being cruel or mean because she hated Betty – it was the complete opposite. "If I was a man, I would marry you Betty McRae and make you happy." And normal.
Betty's face really did darken this time but with anger. "You really shouldn't say things like that to me, Kate." Betty gave her a warning look but Kate didn't understand what she was being told.
"I would. And why shouldn't I say it? If you were a man, you would marry me right?" Kate continued belligerently, "and then we would never have to lose each other. Say..." A thought just occurred to her. "Is that what's wrong with you, Betty? Do you want to be a man?"
Betty's looked around to see if there was anyone close enough to hear them. She didn't relax even though there was no one else on the street. She turned back to Kate with a glare that could melt steel and Kate flinched. "You shouldn't say things like that to me because I would marry you right now as a woman! And I don't want any of us to be men," Betty hissed.
Kate's eyes widened. It was so … odd, to hear those things said about herself. No one had ever wanted her as Marion or Kate. Some had wanted a woman and she had met that low threshold but Betty knew everything there was to know about Kate and most things about Marion and still wanted to marry her. That was...
"Come on." Betty stood up, her temper burnt out, leaving behind only annoyance which was close to normal for Betty. "And eat your ice cream, it's melting everywhere!"
Kate stood and did what she was told, following Betty back to the rooming house mechanically.
Kate lay in bed that night, trying to avoid thinking. God and her father were far too big for her small bedroom to contain and Betty was even bigger still. The pillow Kate kept at the bottom of her bed to keep her feet warm had climbed higher up the bed as she tossed and turned. She lay on her side and used the pillow to separate her bony knees, cradling it between her thighs.
Her brothers had always called her bow-legged. The few boys Kate would run into at Sunday school would follow her brothers' lead and tease her too. She had had her growth spurt early, making her tower over most of the boys her age. Her body unfortunately only grew up instead of out, making her look awkward without any womanly curves. Her red hair had crowned her gangly frame as yet another thing for boys to tease her about. Kate had never really lost the insecurities from the childish taunts but Betty had said she would marry her.
Betty had said that she would marry the knock-kneed, awkward ginger girl with no curves and Kate felt honestly flattered. It meant a lot that someone like Betty thought Kate was pretty. There was a reason that Betty had got a national commercial and it wasn't her winning personality or acting skills. The thought alone made Kate smile.
Of course they couldn't get married. They were both women and it was wrong but it was still nice to hear that someone found her attractive. Kate had thought that Betty saw her as just a woman, the way Donald saw her before Leon knocked him out cold. She didn't realise that Betty saw her as Kate as well as a woman and … of course it was wrong, but wouldn't it be amusing if they did get married?
If Kate was a man and the war was over of course, because she didn't want to get drafted. So if the war was over and Kate was a man, then she would marry Betty. Kate imagines that even as a man she would have been a singer. She would wear a suit and part and oil her hair like James did, because she always thought Gladys was lucky to be with such a well put together man. She would have wing tipped shoes and a waist coat with a pocket watch to keep track of all her engagements. But if she was a singer, where did that leave Betty? Singers had no real money until they made it big and they travelled all the time, so even if she did buy Betty a house, they would hardly ever see each other. Betty could come with her but she doubted Betty would like being on the road or enjoy hanging around in bars like a devoted fan. The idea of Betty fawning over her as she came offstage made Kate snort into her pillow. There was no way Betty McRae would ever fawn over a man, even if that man was Kate. She just couldn't see it.
Kate frowned and shifted causing the pillow between her legs to brush against her panties. She tutted as she realised the state of her night dress, she must have been really tossing and turning for it to have been shoved so high. She didn't bother to fix it as she realised that she would be a terrible husband for Betty.
Betty on the other hand, Betty would be a great husband the more Kate thought about it. At first she imagined Betty to be a blue collar handy man or mechanic. She could certainly see Betty with her sleeves pushed up, grease in her blonde hair and on her cheeks … but then the thought of Betty in one of those three-piece suits like James stuck in Kate's head and refused to leave.
Betty wouldn't shirk her role as the bread winner to chase a singing career and would have a job in the city working nine to five. She would have bought Kate a nice house out in the suburbs with a front and back garden, like Betty had always wanted. She would come home every day on the train, probably after six because Betty couldn't drive and would have spent all her money on buying the house. They would talk about getting a car but not seriously because they liked walking everywhere hand in hand.
Kate would have dinner ready for her when she got in. She would greet her with a kiss at the doorway and take her coat and brief case as Betty grumbled about the stupidity of the men she worked with. Some things would never change, no matter what form Betty came in.
They would have three kids, maybe a fourth. Betty of course would have been against it at the start, but Kate would have talked her around. The oldest would be a boy, followed by a girl and another boy, all a year apart. Betty would have been terrible with them at the start. She would have been afraid to hold them and panicked about dropping them. Even as they grew older she would interact with them cautiously, having tea with the little girl in confusion and no doubt trying to get her to play with the boys' toys instead. Betty would be great with the boys, though. Kate could just see her chasing them around the back garden playing cowboys and Indians. She would be like a giant kid herself once she shrugged off her insecurity.
Kate would have to be the sensible one. She would have to go out and break up the game and send the children to bed while Betty would half-heartedly back her up. Then it would just be the two of them, kids in bed, baby fast asleep (if they decided on the fourth) and the dinner dishes washed and put away.
They would have a radio and their own record player. At the end of a long day Kate would be glad to collapse on the sofa with a glass of wine and listen to some music or stories. But not every night, because there were other duties a wife would have to attend to.
Kate blushed into her top pillow which was just silly because there was no one around to see.
Some nights Betty would just give her a look, they wouldn't have needed to say it, not after three or four children, but Kate would know that something more would be expected of her that night. Betty would sit in the living room after the house had settled in a large wing backed chair in front of their open fire. Kate had always loved big open fire places. She would still be in her suit with her polished black shoes but the jacket would be hung up and the sleeves of the shirt rolled up and maybe one or two buttons undone. The tie would hang in a loose noose around her neck skewing the collar. Without a word, with just a look, Kate would know not to go to the sofa or switch on the radio, but to cross the room and straddle her husband's lap.
Betty would still have her blonde hair, not oiled but loose and free, and her beauty mark and little ball of a chin that Kate would kiss. Betty's hands would be so sure and steady as they found the zipper on the back of Kate's dress. Kate would protest about doing this outside of their bedroom, but they would both know it was hollow and Betty would ignore her until the top of her dress was scrunched at her waist with the bottom about to follow it. She would tower over Betty in this position but that wouldn't make her feel awkward or lanky because it was the best position for her husband to kiss her neck and cup her breasts – oh!
Kate bit her lip as her hips began to rock against the pillow unconsciously.
All those things her father called her and warned her about would melt away under Betty. Betty wouldn't care that she wanted her touch. As her husband Betty would enjoy the wanting and burning she would cause inside her wife. Kate would never have to be ashamed of the rolling waves of desire that would sometimes overcome her. Betty would understand and Betty would provide Kate with the relief that she needed.
Kate's fantasy ran frustratingly headlong into her ignorance.
She didn't know how Betty would relieve her. She didn't know what happened beyond kissing and touching. Betty would have a husband's bulge and Kate would touch it and imagined that Betty would put it inside her, or rub it against her, or do something with it that would relieve the ache inside her. Gladys had talked coyly of what happens between lovers while Vera had slyly implied, but none had ever gone into the description Kate secretly desired. She had never been brave or rude enough to ask.
With a groan, Kate flopped onto her back, kicking the pillow between her knees away. She felt far too hot for her little bed. She flapped the blankets trying to get air around herself but was still overheated and restless. How she hated summer and its stifling heat. There was a hollow, wanting ache that called for her but she didn't know how to fix it. She smothered her face in her pillow and groaned. She rolled over and tried to get to sleep.
The almost supernatural awareness Kate had of her body bordered on painful. It was definitely frustrating. She let out an irritated sigh. It served her right, thinking about silly things like marriage and Betty as a man. Betty could never be a man and Kate could never make her normal that way.
Kate still got a little flustered when soldiers asked her to dance. Seeing the fresh handsome faces in uniform holding out their hand to her made her heart flutter. It rarely happened as the few dances she had been to, she had hid behind Betty just watching everyone. The soldiers and the women looked so glamorous and filled with life she couldn't help feeling a little dowdy next to them.
Betty always rolled her eyes and told her she was being silly. She would tell Kate that any of those stuffed shirts would be on their knees begging for a dance if Kate would only stop hiding behind her. Of course, Kate always protested and stayed right next to Betty, who she thought must have been terribly lonely at these dances because she never danced with anyone.
Kate had thought the great Betty must be embarrassed by her dancing or even shy around men. That had made her laugh, Betty always scowled at the soldiers that had asked her to dance. It amused Kate to think that big brash Betty the Bomb Girl was afraid of making a fool of herself in front of so many men.
Now she knew different.
All the times Kate had coaxed her into dancing Betty had been stiff at the start before she relaxed and showed that she did possess some grace, not much, but enough that Kate didn't have to worry about her toes. Kate had thought she was helping her best friend relax and gain confidence so that she would say yes to the next soldier that asked. But Betty never said yes and Kate was just happy to be helping her friend so she never pushed. She also liked the fact that she got to lead since she was taller and more confident. It wasn't often Kate excelled at something and got to teach Betty.
"Easy there!" Derrick, the solider that had asked her to dance, laughed as she stumbled slightly.
"I'm so sorry," Kate smiled at him. Thinking of Betty always knocked her off her feet a little.
"That's okay, I don't mind catching pretty ladies." Derrick gave her a charming smile.
Kate wanted to reply, but out of the corner of her eye she saw a solider heading towards Betty, looking overly confident. Betty, as usual, was nursing her drink by a table. Gladys was nowhere to be seen, leaving Betty all alone since Vera didn't come to dances anymore because of her scars. The three of them had come together, their first social outing as a group since Kate got back, because Kate was trying. She was honestly trying to be Betty's friend – didn't Jesus say to hate the sin and love the sinner?
"Oh, poor Bob," Derrick laughed as he followed Kate's gaze.
"Why poor Bob?" Kate asked shooting him a quick glance before returning her gaze to Betty.
"Asking the Bomb Girl to dance," Derrick grinned. "The boys and I have all heard the rumours that she doesn't dance with no guy. We've been wondering who's going to be brave enough to try and turn Bomb Girl into Bomb Woman. I guess Bob fancies himself lucky."
"That's not very nice." Kate stopped dancing. Derrick noticed her change in mood and immediately folded his face into a contrite expression.
"Hey, we don't mean no harm by it. It's just a little queer is all," Derrick shrugged. His words were like a bucket of cold water over Kate. Queer, strange, abnormal, those were all the things people had began to say about Betty.
"She's not strange." Kate shook her head, stepping back again from Derrick as he tried to reach out and calm her. "Betty isn't bad just because she doesn't want to dance with soldiers! Maybe she can't dance, maybe she's embarrassed and all you're doing is reminding her of that and making her feel bad and uncomfortable. You should be ashamed of yourself!" Kate said hotly with tears in her eyes. Her voice wasn't very loud or even strong but Derrick looked panicked anyway.
"Hey! Don't cry!" he pleaded "I'll go over there right now and drag Bob away. I swear we didn't mean nothing by it. And hey – look, she doesn't seem to mind."
Kate looked over and was surprised to see that instead of Betty's irritated scowl, there was a reluctant twist of her mouth. The same twist she got when she found something Kate said really funny but didn't want Kate to know. Bob was waving his arms apparently in the middle of some action-packed story and Betty didn't seem to mind.
"See? So it's all okay now, right?" Derrick asked, approaching her slowly like she was a wild animal about to be spooked.
Kate let him draw her back into his arms, still on the verge of tears. He held her and began to rock soothingly until they were almost dancing again. He placed his hand on the back of her head encouraging her to place her head on his shoulder. She eventually did, keeping her head turned so she could still watch Betty and Bob.
When the song was over, Derrick gave her a hasty bow and retreated. He looked glad to be
rid of her and Kate didn't really blame him. She knew her face must be red and puffy in her attempts not to cry. Those people didn't have the right to say those things about Betty. Talking about her behind her back was just so cruel!
Kate entered the bathroom hiding her face from the three women that exited. She hated to cry and she really hated to be seen to cry. She grabbed some tissue and dampened it in order to press against her eyes.
She honestly didn't know what was wrong with her. The wonderful feeling that had fluttered whenever Derrick had asked her to dance had was no longer there. The butterflies had died and their little bodies turned into heavy weights that dragged down both her stomach and her mood. She clutched at the rim of the sink taking deep breaths. The door opened and without thinking she looked up.
"Bet-?" But it was only Gladys standing in the doorway.
Gladys closed the door behind her before she crossed the small distance and took the wet tissue from Kate. Without a word she tilted Kate's face towards her and began to softly dab at her cheeks. Kate relaxed, both glad and disappointed it wasn't Betty.
"Now, what's all these tears for?" Gladys chided her softly.
"There's no tears," Kate said but sniffed afterwards. She must look like one of those crazy women right now.
"Honestly, Kate." Gladys rolled her eyes, exasperated. Her sympathy never did last long. "I noticed you running right to the bathroom as soon as the music stopped. Did that soldier take advantage?"
"No." Kate shook her head furiously. She didn't want to get Derrick in trouble after he had already been put out by her fit on the dance floor. "I'm sorry to bother you. Honestly, Gladys, I'm glad you're watching out for me. I really appreciate it."
"Oh, is that what this is about?" Gladys said her voice far too knowing and superior. She sounded exactly like she used to when she first started working at the factory, with her rich girl tone that knew everything about nothing. Kate couldn't help but bristle at hearing it. "You're upset because Betty didn't come running?"
"I am not!" Kate said, alarmed. She felt like stamping her foot under Gladys's smug look.
"So you're just upset about the soldier that's making her laugh?" Gladys turned and lent against the sink taking up most of the space in the small bathroom.
"I'm not upset about that!" Kate snapped.
"Seems to me you are," Gladys continued. Her voice was hard and brooked no argument. Kate had never heard such sand being directed at her. Gladys was always nice to her. "The way you spent the whole dance glaring at him? I thought the poor boy was going to die before he even met the Germans!"
"That's not true." Kate shook her head. She could feel the tears returning.
Gladys sighed. "Kate, you can't keep punishing her. Isn't this what you wanted? Betty talking to men and being normal? You can't throw a tantrum every time she pays attention to someone that isn't me or you and not expect her to get ideas."
"I – I- " Kate started but couldn't go on. She felt so lost. She didn't want to lose Betty but she also didn't want to go to Hell. She looked at Gladys helplessly, she didn't know what was going on or what to do.
Gladys pushed herself away from the sink and took Kate's hand. "If you can't give her what she needs, which is perfectly fine and nothing to feel guilty about, then you should let her find someone else who can. You can't do this halfway." She gave Kate's hand a squeeze of understanding. "Let her go Kate. You both deserve to be happy."
Kate let Gladys lead her out of the bathroom. The band was playing a slow song as the evening wound down. Kate's eyes automatically searched for Betty in the crowd. She caught glimpses of the blonde woman in between the dancing pairs. Betty seemed to be searching for something too. When she caught sight of Kate, she stopped. Their gaze stretched across the room and the dancing couples, calming the turmoil inside Kate. Betty offered her a tiny hesitant smile and Kate's heart broke.
She didn't want to let Betty go.
"It's late, I better go." Betty stood up, twisting into a long stretch that pulled her shirt up. For a brief second a small slash of pale flesh peeked out at Kate before Betty dropped her arms with a sigh.
"You can, uh, sleep in here," Kate offered, mentally cursing the tiny crack in her voice.
Betty turned to look at her suspiciously. They used to always sleep together but that was before. They had even slept next to each other after Kate had comforted Betty after her night with the red shift whore. But it had always been in Betty's bed so Kate had the option of leaving whenever she wanted. There was an unspoken understanding that Kate's room was her sanctuary and Betty didn't have the automatic invitation that she had had before.
"If you want." Kate plucked at her covers and avoided looking at Betty's eyes.
"I'll go get my night dress," Betty said after an excruciating silence. Kate looked up ready to protest but stopped at the last moment. While it might have been okay for them to have slept in their underwear before – now, now it wasn't okay. Kate bit her lip and nodded.
She took the opportunity to change into her own night dress and get into bed. When Betty came in with her own white cotton sleepwear Kate nearly laughed. Despite the hot night, Betty's nightdress covered her from her neck to her ankles and wrists. Kate didn't think Betty even owned something so modest. It looked like something a Victorian would wear.
"Shut up," Betty muttered with a blush. "It was my grandmother's."
"It looks like it," Kate giggled.
Betty scowled and tugged the covers away from Kate playfully. Then her smile dropped as she looked at the bed and back to Kate. She was clearly waiting for her directions. Kate's own smile faded as she thought about this. The last time Betty had slept in her bed she usually slept behind her or with Kate's head on her chest. She nodded for Betty to get in in front of her so they would be sleeping facing each other. It seemed like the safest option.
After Betty had settled down, no easy feat considering the small bed and their determination not to touch, there was silence.
"Is that a pillow?" Betty asked at last, breaking the silence as she looked down at her feet.
"Yes, that's my bottom pillow," Kate explained. She couldn't make out much of Betty's face in the dark but she could tell by the other woman's snort that she didn't think much of Kate's bottom pillow. "It keeps my feet warm," she said defensively.
"Which is really important in August," Betty laughed at her.
"Well, you don't have to use it," Kate huffed, settling down to sleep.
Kate woke up on her side with her foot pillow between her knees. One of Betty's legs was slung over the pillow and Kate's calf. The blonde had her face burrowed into the top pillow as she was lying mostly on her stomach, forcing Kate to the edge of the bed. Kate grumbled a little shifting so she had more room.
The firm edge of the pillow travelled higher during Kate's wiggling, brushing against her. Kate's breath caught. Slowly, her hand reached down and angled the pillow higher. She didn't want to disturb Betty but she had got used to rubbing against the pillow in the mornings and she was pretty sure she could do it without waking the other woman. Her fingers edged up the hem of her nightdress until the pillow was under it. She placed the hem back down rather than letting it sit at her waist like she normally would. She didn't want to be indecent.
Barely moving her hips, she began to rock softly. Betty was taking up most of the room so her grinding was much shorter than normal but Kate began to get that nice warm sensation in her belly nonetheless. She began to idly plan what to do on her day off as she rocked and squeezed her thighs together. Her eyes fluttered shut. She wished she could angle the pillow up more but with Betty in the way that was impossible.
Kate opened her eyes only to find one big wide blue eye staring at her like a monster from the other pillow. Kate jumped, pushing Betty back in alarm. Betty's face turned towards her fully as she turned on her side.
"Kate, what are you doing?" Betty asked, sounding as if someone was strangling her.
"Jeez, Betty, you gave me a heart attack! What are you doing, staring with one eye out of the side of your head!" Kate's heart was still pounding. Her hips began to rock again softly.
"Kate!" Betty cried in alarm, half sitting up. "Stop that!" she pleaded.
"What?" Kate frowned at her.
"The – the rocking!" Betty uncharacteristically stuttered, waving jerkily at Kate's still moving hips.
"Why? It feels good," Kate said, puzzled. She moved over a little. "Here, you try. It's like scratching an itch but more soothing."
"I'll say it's soothing!" Betty looked like a wild thing. Her hair was tussled from sleep and her eyes were far too wide and alert for this early in the morning. Kate rolled her eyes, the only good thing about Betty waking up is that now that the blonde was on her side, Kate could lengthen her grinding.
"Kate! You got to stop." Betty's eyes closed desperately as she watched Kate's rocking get slower and longer.
"Why?" Kate asked again, only this time her breathing hitched.
Betty groaned, looking like she was in physical pain. "Because," she whispered, her face going red, "it's sexual."
Kate stopped immediately. "It is not!" she denied, sitting up and away from Betty.
"Yes it is," Betty said, pressing the heels of her hand against her eyes.
"You're just being – being-" Kate spluttered, trying to think of a word before gasping out,
"Oh, really?" Betty flung her hands down from her face to glare at Kate. "Okay then." She threw the blanket off the bed and sat up. Before Kate could react Betty grabbed her upper arms and dragged Kate forward. She struggled as Betty pulled her onto her lap, but Betty was far too strong. "If it ain't sexual, use my thigh!"
"What?" Kate tried to jerk away but Betty grabbed her roughly around the waist with one arm, keeping Kate on top of her. With her other hand, Betty dragged the hem of her long nightdress up enough to free her legs. Kate struggled and tried to get away – until she felt the smooth warmth of Betty's thigh pressing between her own.
"I'm not having you calling me indecent when you're the one that – whoa!" Betty's words were cut off as Kate's upper torso surged forward and managed to throw Betty back on the bed. Kate's movement had the added affect of pressing her ass backwards along Betty's thigh. Leaning forward opened Kate in a different way that made her eyes widen.
Betty froze, wide-eyed against the headboard. Her eyes fell to where Kate's centre pressed against her thigh. Kate's nightgown obscured the view and kept what was left of her modesty. As Kate stared at the blonde, Betty swallowed hard. The entire third Reich could have marched outside their window and Betty wouldn't have noticed. Kate could see another sort of war raging across Betty's face before she gave in and flexed her thigh.
Kate gasped and her head fell forward. Her hands clutched the bed sheet on either side of Betty as she slide backwards. Betty's thigh was a firm pulsing muscle of soft, hot, flesh that spread her wider than the pillow had ever done. Kate looked up at Betty from under her lashes as her red hair fell about her face, still messy from the fight. Betty looked both petrified and intense. Kate saw something powerful in those dark blue eyes that made her involuntarily clench around Betty's thigh.
"Uhh," Betty breathed, her eyes squeezing shut. The heat just below Kate's stomach flared hotly at the sound and she gasped at the sensation.
The only thing that Kate wanted to do was start rocking, but there was no way on earth that she could do that and believe she wasn't being sexual. She bit her lip hoping the pain would take away her body's slavish focus on Betty's thigh.
Kate was shocked when she suddenly found herself on her back as Betty pushed her away and stood up. Her long nightdress fell down like a heavy curtain. "I told you I wasn't lying," Betty said, her voice straining to be normal. She patted down her blonde hair and smoothed down her nightdress with her back to Kate. "Bet you'll think twice before doing that again in front of company." Betty tried to laugh but it sounded strained.
Kate watched her leave clutching the blanket to herself. She stared at the closed door in silence before she roughly grabbed her bottom pillow and threw it hard against the wall.