Each heartbeat seems slower, longer.
The time between one, and the next, and the next are drawn out. Are little, tense eternities.
She lives and dies a hundred times in each empty space.
In the end, in the last moments and in the final breaths, all that's left is love.
It was sunny when she woke, the early morning light peeking in past the curtains. Somewhere in the distance birds chirped angrily at each other, and down in the next yard she could hear the neighbor whistling as he swept the twigs and leaves, victims of last night's storms, from his drive. The temperature, achingly hot for days, had finally broken, and a gentle breeze whispered past her skin.
The worst of the late-summer heat wave seemed to have passed on.
Gail sat up and smiled to herself, taking note of the time.
The alarm hadn't gone off yet, and wasn't set to wake them up for another forty-five minutes or so.
Plenty of time, she thought, maneuvering carefully, trying not to wake up the woman at her side.
Plenty of time.
That's the problem, of course, Gail thinks, feeling the way the fabric of her shirt clings to her body, wet. Almost warm.
That's the problem.
There's never enough time.
She feels hot, feels this sort of formless heat, this raw burning. Inside her, consuming her from the inside out.
It's so strange, she thinks as she struggles to remember, to recall. Was it last night it rained? Was last night the storm that tamed the hot city air?
She's wet now, her face is, and she wonders if the rain has returned. If it will cool the heavy inferno in her chest, the heat and pressure that holds her down against the wet concrete.
Maybe this storm will finally mark the end of summer.
Maybe this time the cool air will last.
Holly slept through Gail's gentle movements, barely moving as the blonde pulled back the single sheet that had covered them through the night. As Gail worked her way down the bed before slowly parting her girlfriend's long, dusky legs and settled herself in-between them.
It had been so hot when they went to bed, the storm just blowing in, that Holly forsook her usual nightclothes and instead climbed into their bed in just an olive green tank-top. Nothing else.
Any other night, a mostly-naked Holly climbing into bed would have ended with the both of them, completely-naked, and curled around each other. But last night they'd both been sweaty, not the good kind, and tired. Annoyed with all the little hassles of the day, short on tempers and patience.
But this morning was a whole new day.
Gail slowly lowered her head, placed a small kiss at the crook of Holly's inner-thigh, just where her leg met her torso. And then another, and another, letting her lips travel down, down, down Holly's skin, mapping out her path with barely-there kisses.
Until she reached the apex above Holly's sex, the thicket of dark curls that Gail loved to run her fingers through as they made love. And there, just over the place where Holly's clit lay hidden, and waiting, Gail pressed her lips, let the barest tip of her tongue sneak past her lips for her first taste of Holly's morning-sweet flesh.
"Hmmmm," Holly said in her sleep, her hips shifting just the slightest under Gail's lips.
And then the blonde moved lower.
She knows even before she feels the impact.
She knows in the breath before the sound, in the exhale before the shot.
It's bad, it's going to be bad.
Their intel was wrong, or someone said something they shouldn't've.
Or maybe it was just luck, too many things gone right.
Things had been going so well lately, professionally. Personally.
Things had been going so well, she'd been so happy.
Maybe it was just time for the universe to even the score.
Gail dipped her head and sought out Holly's clit with her tongue, the scent of her girlfriend's soap and something deeper, something that was Holly's scent alone, overwhelming her senses as she licked and teased at her girlfriend's flesh.
She was gentle, so gentle. Making slow, tortuously slow circles on the sensitive skin surrounding the doctor's clit. Gail could feel the little minute changes as she went, as her girlfriend's body responded to her ministrations. The slight twitch of muscle under skin, the little noises Holly made, the sharp and lazy intake of breath. All the things Gail loves about making love to the dark-haired woman.
Still, no less sexy. No less gorgeous than usual.
Gail touched the tip of her tongue to the top of her girlfriend's swollen bundle of nerves, and felt as Holly's hips cant up into her, seeking out more contact. The blonde smiled against her lover's body. Asleep, awake, Holly's body was always so response, so attuned to her own.
Now, answering the brunette's need, Gail laid the flat of her tongue against Holly's warm, hot flesh. Just laid her tongue in the space between Holly's lips, against her throbbing clit.
Until she felt her girlfriend's body move again, felt her hips thrust sleepily against her warm, wet tongue.
Then again, with a little more precision.
There we go, Gail thought as she felt Holly's hand come down to tangle in her hair, settle at the base of her head.
"Fuck, honey," the brunette said, her voice thick with arousal and the fog of sleep.
Gail tilted her head, just enough so she could see into her girlfriend's eyes, see the expression on her face.
"Morning," she said, swallowing, and then returned to her task, Holly's moan almost drowned out by the sound of her racing blood.
Holly's hand tightened in her hair.
She steadies her hand, taking what comfort she can in the harsh feel of velcro against her neck. It was supposed to be a routine questioning, just a squad sent out to interview a witness.
A normal day.
A normal task.
But it wasn't.
It never happened that way.
Because here she is, a gun pointed at her head, her partner on the floor at her back. The suspect had gotten a jump on him, cold-cocked him and knocked him to the ground.
And now she's starting at him down the barrel of her gun, watching as the sweat gathers and stings at his eyes. Sees the unsteady hands, the trembling lip. Sees his eyes flick back and forth, from her to the gun, the gun to her.
He's young, so young.
Already, his life is over.
Still, he doesn't know it. Still, he has hope.
But she doesn't. She knows.
He's going to pull the trigger, she can see it in his eyes, the desperation.
And then, he blinks.
And for a second, for one blinding moment, everything goes dark.
Gail moaned into her girlfriend's soaked flesh, her tongue circling Holly's entrance, chasing the taste of her arousal.
There, just inside.
And then up, up, up.
Until she was thrusting the firm muscle of her tongue deep, deep into Holly, inside of her lover's gorgeous, delicious pussy.
Her thumb was busy against the brunette's clit, working in tight, unyielding circles around the sensitive nub. And then, every once and a while, Gail would break the cycle, and swipe the pad against it hard, determinedly. Relishing in the way Holly would arch her back, push her feet into the mattress and thrust against her mouth.
The sounds coming from the head of the bed were glorious. Gone were the breathy moans and the soft curses. Gone were the "fucks," and "gods," and "Gails."
Holly was past the point of sense, her body and mind lost to the race towards her orgasm, the orgasm Gail was fast rushing her toward. Now all Gail could hear over the wet sound of her tongue, and the brush of her hair against the brunette's thighs were Holly's almost animal panting, her high cries and shuddering breaths, faster and faster as she drove her lover to the precipice of pleasure.
And then, like the final note of some beautiful symphony, held long after all the other instruments had faded away, just a single note. Holly's cry as she lost control, as she thrust mindlessly against Gail's mouth, Gail's tongue. As her cum poured over her lover's tongue, as Gail lapped it up, drank from her.
And then, silence.
Loud, and deafening.
The sound of comfort.
The locker room is buzzing with noise as she preps for roll. But she's used to it, enough that she can ignore it without much effort.
She pulls up her duty trousers, tucking the dark blue tails of her shirt into her waistband. Settling the belt over her hips and buckling it tight.
There's a mirror in her locker, hanging from the door, but she never looks at it.
Instead, as she completes her morning ritual, as she settles into the day and lets the familiarity of habit soothe her, her eyes rest on the picture of the woman taped just above it. And looking at it, at the face she loves so well, the face she's spent countless hours memorizing, she straps on her vest.
And then, a silent vow.
To be safe.
To be smart.
To always, always come home.
A promise, sealed with the press of her fingertip against her lover's lips.
"Mmmmmm," Holly said as her lover crawled up to lay next to her and joined their mouths.
Gail smiled into the kiss, and let their tongues play lazily together, let the doctor taste herself, her pleasure, on the blonde's lips, tongue.
"Good morning," she said in return, pulling back just the slightest.
Holly was beautiful in the morning, always. Hair mussed, and her slightly crooked smile just a bit lazy, a bit more relaxed than normal. Gail loved to look at her, just look, in the early morning light.
The brunette hummed, the sound low in her throat.
"Good morning to you too," she answered, a gentle grin on her face, "what was that for, babe?"
Gail laughed, and kissed her girlfriend again.
"Just because. I love you. I woke up and it was cool in here and you felt so good sleeping next to me. I couldn't resist," she said.
Holly stretched, arching her body into Gail's.
"How much time do we have," the doctor asked, "enough for me to return the favor?" She grinned wickedly at her girlfriend.
But Gail glanced over at the clock and shook her head.
"Sadly, babe, not so much. I have to get to work. But," Gail said with a soft smile, almost shy, "tonight, when I get home from work? I'm all yours."
Holly kissed her.
On the lips.
On the cheek.
On the tip of her nose.
"Sure, baby," she said, "we've got time."