Challenge fic: These Are Their Stories
Author: eponinesghost (EppieG)
Title: These Are Their Stories
Notes/Summary: Written in response to the "Murphy's Law" challenge posted on the TBJ:Ladies LiveJournal forum ...
Balancing her briefcase and a small bag of groceries on her hip, Kelly unlocked the final deadbolt. There was something so comforting about hearing the last lock flip after a long trying day. Briefly the word "sanctuary" flashed through her mind. She was just glad to be home. And done for the night. When she'd left this morning, she hadn't known it would be well after dark when she'd return, although she couldn't honestly say she was surprised. So many of her days followed the same pattern. All she could think of now was getting out of these shoes, grabbing a bite to eat, and sinking into the sofa or the pillows on her bed.
Exhaling, she pushed the door open and juggled her belongings a bit as she entered. She realized just how tired she was when she made it all the way to the kitchen before she noticed she wasn't alone. Her heart skipped in alarm for only a second as she froze in place. Tracey. Thank God. She flushed with irritation, more at herself and her lack of awareness than at her unexpected visitor. Swinging her briefcase heavily into one of the barstools and shoving the grocery sack onto the counter, she took a moment to compose herself before turning toward her partner.
"Hey ... did you use your key?" She knew it was a stupid question the minute it left her mouth, but she was still a little thrown.
From her position on the corner of the couch, Tracey looked over her shoulder. "Yeah ... is that okay?" Her brow furrowed uneasily. "I probably should've called first ... checked with you ..."
Kelly balanced against the counter that separated the kitchen from the living room as she slipped off her shoes. "No, no, no ... really ... it's fine ... that's why I gave it to you ... for you to use." She was just a bit startled, that was all. And a little unsettled.
"It was a spur of the moment thing ... " Tracey waved a spoon in one hand, a sheepish grin on her face. "You have ice cream."
Smiling in spite of herself, Kelly continued her homecoming ritual by shrugging off her blazer. Starting on the buttons at the cuff of her shirtsleeve, she asked dryly, "And what if I'd decided to use my key and had gone to your place tonight?"
Tracey took another bite of mint chocolate chip before answering, her words slightly slurred when she did. "Well ... you'd be there alone ... with beer ... but no ice-cream."
"Instead of here with ice-cream and no beer?" Kelly laughed.
"And me." Tracey turned her attention back toward the television as the commercials ended.
Kelly started toward the bedroom, undoing the buttons on the front of her blouse as she walked. On her way she glanced back, noticing that Tracey sat with her legs curled underneath her, one of Kelly's oversized t-shirts reaching past her knees. It was at times like these that she was reminded of how tiny Tracey could seem. So much of the time she was larger than life.
As she slid out of her shirt and unzipped her skirt, Kelly eyed the smattering of Tracey's personal items that were now familiar additions to her own. Part of her was still surprised that they had progressed even this far. The other part marveled that it had taken this long for the extra key privilege to be exercised. Exchanging them had seemed like the next logical step and she'd offered hers without reservation. That's why she had been so surprised by the twinge of discomfort earlier ... knowing that suddenly nothing was solely "hers" anymore ... that they were this much closer to "ours." It spoke volumes about their relationship that Tracey was the first to cross that threshold.
Opening a drawer and grabbing her pajamas, she wondered if Tracey had any of the same misgivings, if she would feel the same way the first time Kelly made herself at home in her apartment without "permission." Shaking her head, she silently chastised herself. It wasn't like they'd moved in together ... and honestly, she loved having Tracey here. At any time. It was just her exhaustion talking. Besides, she could still do everything she'd looked forward to before she'd unlocked her front door. Just not alone. And that wasn't an unpleasant thought.
When Kelly returned to the living room, she found Tracey licking the inside of the spoon like a lollipop and completely engrossed in whatever she was watching on tv. She was adorable, although Kelly knew she'd bristle at the description.
"I stopped at the market on the way home ... fixed one of those to-go salad bar things ... you're welcome to share it."
Distractedly, Tracey shook her head, speaking without turning toward her. "No thanks. I ate before I came over."
Moving behind the counter and reaching into the bag, Kelly grasped the plastic container that held her dinner. Flipping it open and selecting a plate from the cabinet, she glanced up at the flickering images on the screen across the room. "What are you watching?" She didn't add "so intently."
"It's the premiere of that new procedural drama ... "Murphy's Law."
"Cop or court?" Kelly forked the contents of the container onto her plate haphazardly.
"It's supposed to be both ... that's the big selling point, anyway ... the 'hook' ... following a case through the police work to the legal wrangling of prosecution. They're still on the cop part now."
"Why does the title sound so familiar?"
Tracey snorted. "They've been pimping it unmercifully for the past three weeks ... I practically memorized the god-awful teaser ..."
"And you're still watching it?"
"Forget everything you know about television drama ..." Tracey's voice mimicked that of the overwrought and inescapable network announcer. "There's only one law that counts this Fall ... and it belongs to Detective Sergeant Murphy."
Pointing her spoon at the screen, Tracey nodded. "Yeah, they think it's clever ... that's his first name, 'Sergeant,' ... his character explained it at the beginning ... apparently his folks didn't have high hopes for him."
Kelly's nose wrinkled. "Again, I ask ... and you're still watching it?"
This time Tracey looked at her, shrugging. "Well ... I was approached about being a consultant on it ... by one of the producers ... but that was before they decided to film in L.A." She swiveled back around toward the set. "Apparently the lead actor, the one playing Murphy, insisted that he couldn't live in New York."
Still processing the consulting news, Kelly stabbed her fork into a green pepper. "Didn't he used to be that guy ... on that soap opera, about ten years ago?" She chewed thoughtfully as she peered at his face.
"That's him all right. Evidently this is his big 'serious actor' comeback . I don't think he's aged that well myself."
Opening the fridge to retrieve a large bottle of water, Kelly chuckled. "That's the thing with men, though ... age adds 'character' ... besides he's not playing a romantic lead, is he?"
"God I hope not."
"Were you going to do it? Be their consultant?" Kelly joined her on the couch, balancing her plate on her lap as she set the water bottle on a coaster.
"I thought about it pretty seriously." Tracey carefully pressed the round cardboard lid down on top of the ice-cream container. "I'm pretty sick of how unrealistic some of these legal shows have gotten. Still ... it probably wouldn't have worked out, as busy as we are ..."
"So, is the show still set in NY?"
"Yeah, they're faking it."
Just then, accompanied by a loud sound effect, there was a slow motion close-up of a gavel slamming down, twice. Kelly nearly choked on her salad. "I guess that's supposed to signify the 'court' portion of the program."
"Subtle." Tracey smirked. Then her expression turned skeptical. "That's supposed to be an ADA's office?" They both reacted to the plush furniture and spacious surroundings.
"I guess that's the executive ADA ... he's not that bad ... hair's a little long ..."
"It's probably meant to indicate that he's a bit of a rebel ... you know, edgy." Tracey rolled her eyes.
Kelly was taking a long sip of water when she heard the EADA character's next line: '... and this is my deputy ADA, Brandi Benton.' She nearly did a spit-take, barely succeeding in keeping water from spraying all over the room. Coughing, she blinked as her eyes teared up from the strain. "Oh my god ..." She was sputtering. "Is she wearing Prada?"
"Forget that ... I can't believe how big her boobs are. And is she like nineteen? How did she get through law school already? Don't answer that ..."
Kelly's jaw dropped as ADA Benton spoke, her words breathlessly enunciated in a childlike voice. "I'm going to throw up."
"Get in line." Tracey's hand hovered over her forehead, almost if she could hardly bear to watch. "Somebody has connections at the Playboy mansion."
Onscreen, the action moved into an equally unrealistic office setting, this one with ADA Brandi Benton's nameplate on the desk. "With an 'i' ..." Kelly murmured in disbelief. She watched as the EADA leaned against the desk and Benton stood inexplicably close to him. "Don't tell me ..."
"That they're involved? Okay I won't. But the show's going to."
"Ew, Tracey. He's old enough to be her father ... not to mention that he's her boss!" She waved her hand, exasperated. "They're supposed to be professionals, they work together ... it's completely inappropriate ..."
When Tracey remained silent, Kelly glanced over to find her staring with one eyebrow quirked up. As Kelly made eye contact, Tracey pointedly looked down at her attire, her surroundings, and then meaningfully back at Kelly. She laughed, teasing. "Well ... at least you have the decency to blush."
"Shut up." Kelly was almost pouting. "It's not the same thing, and you know it ..."
"For the record, had I been consulting on this, I would have strongly objected." She stood up abruptly, holding the ice-cream carton and simultaneously switching off the television with the remote.
"You're not going to watch the rest?"
"I think we've both seen enough." She reached for Kelly's empty plate and moved toward the kitchen. "Let's face it, what we do isn't glamorous enough for television ... without embellishment. And big boobs." She placed the ice-cream back in the freezer.
As Tracey rinsed the plate and slid it into the dishwasher, Kelly moved next to her, smiling at the domesticity of the situation. Returning the water bottle to the door of the refrigerator, she was positively thrilled that this evening had turned out differently than she'd planned. Stepping behind Tracey and sliding her arms around her waist, she kissed the side of her neck, nuzzling the long black hair out of the way. "Whatta ya say we go do something completely inappropriate, boss?"
Tracey tilted her head back, closing her eyes briefly. "I don't know ... I'm kind of tired."
Frozen for a few seconds, Kelly dropped her arms and took a step back just as a low chuckle reached her ears. Tracey was teasing her ... again. The brunette turned and looped her arms around Kelly's neck.
"Maybe if you baby talk like the young Ms. Benton ..." She waggled her eyebrows at Kelly.
Pushing away with mock offense, Kelly started toward the bedroom, turning off the kitchen lights. "Not on your life."
Tracey grinned and followed, stopping to switch off the lamp near the sofa. "I'm the boss ... remember?" She called after Kelly as she disappeared down the hallway.
Standing next to the bed, hand on her hip, Kelly waited until her partner cleared the doorway to reply. "As long as we're under my roof ... my rules."
"Oh goody." Tracey closed the distance between them swiftly. "I'm all yours."
Grabbing the front of Tracey's t-shirt and drawing her into a long kiss, Kelly's mind drifted back to her earlier musings. Mine. Mine. Belonging solely to me. Tracey. Wrapping her arms tightly around everything she'd ever wanted, she finally sank back against the pillows.
thanks for reading!