Series: Sunshine Cleaning
Summary: Norah builds, burns and rebuilds bridges.
Author's note: Yuletide treat, Bonster asked for Lynn/Norah femslash. According to an afterellen article, there was a large amount of lesbian content cut from the drawing board. This bridges (pun intended) the described scenes exactly for dialogue, as well as the ending that Rajskub believed they deserved.
Norah has been in many people's apartments. Half the time she doesn't even ask for a date, just a quick fuck and get off. She has a not-boyfriend friend with benefits just for this. In fact, his dick is about all she likes about him, given that what a narcissist he is. Rose wants a great love; she's always just wanted a bit of a buzz.
However, Lynn's apartment is different. She's nervous, oddly, like a kid on a first date. It's a fairly normal enough place with a lazy Pier 1 decor, like cheap Good Housekeeping or some such magazine that Norah doesn't really read but sometimes flips through at the supermarket while she's in line. It's better than reading about the latest celebrity breakup and there's a peace to the photos of these perfectly preserved houses with no dirty hand prints, no dead mother in the bathroom, no dysfunction at all. It's peaceful, these little bubbles of perfection, like the forever skating people in the snow globes.
There's no pictures of family members set up on endtables here, no pictures of anyone at all, really. Norah always looks for those and the traces of the family relationships. There's subtle cues there if you know where to look. A smile too wide, a chastened child who wouldn't sit still and now is sulking away, a father who would rather be somewhere else.
There's nothing to hint that Lynn might secretly be oh idrinking the blood/I or storing bodies in the closet. Then again, Norah's the creeper here. She's the one who works with dead bodies and stalked a girl to provide some brilliant post-mortem mother-daughter bonding.
"Do you want wine? You seem a bit tense," Lynn asks.
"Oh, no...I mean. I'd like a drink, I'm just a little wound up.."
From the fact that she's now in Lynn's house? This was supposed to be a simple Hallmark affair. Give the pictures, fix it, lights pan, dramatic music, hug, happy memory and goodbye.
"..From work," Norah finishes lamely. There's some truth in this statement – work was a pain and a half.
"Nothing like cleaning someone's brains off of the ceiling," Norah says, all mock cheer.
Lynn, smiles a bit. Maybe she even understands, working in a blood bank can't be the easiest thing. Who really likes blood and needles –other than serial killers and fetishists? Maybe she's just humoring her. Norah doesn't really know.
Lynn pours out the wine in a way that's surprisingly sensual, and Norah almost expects to hear Barry White in the background, maybe a few candles. This is so obviously a date. Norah drinks down her wine too quickly, and wills the looseness, the release that a beer buzz can give her.
Lynn is staring back at her, a little taken aback.
"I've got good alcohol tolerance," Norah says, feeling the awkwardness creep up on her.
Jeez. She might as well have admitted that she's done Tequila shots in Tijuana. See, this is why she doesn't date. It's this silence and strained smiles and the only thing that comes to her mind in these situations are things like My sister and I found my mother's dead body in the tub when we were young. or oh yeah, I cleaned someone's brains off the ceiling this morning. So what did you do? Copy machine freeze again?
When it's just a quick fuck, then there's no real need for much conversation. No need for intimacy, or to talk about it.
"So tell me about it," Lynn says.
"Tell me. I'm not squeamish. You can't be with my line of work."
Norah looks at the last dregs of her wine.
"Nothing much to tell. There were brains. I cleaned them off the ceiling. I didn't expect it to smell like it did."
She feels the wine kick in, but it's more, it's more. She feels comfortable about Lynn, even if they've not known each other long. There's something here, beyond the shared mother issues and gritty jobs. Norah leans on her hand and smiles.
"I feel like I can talk to you."
Lynn sits a bit closer, a bit, a bit until her hand is stoking her cheek. She looks up and doesn't freeze, doesn't pull away. She feels Lynn's lips against her, warm and soft. This isn't the first time, she once kissed Mary Anne Theyton on a truth or dare/spin the bottle combo. She's always been surprised, then and now, at how soft a woman feels.
She knows it's way too far, but she feels herself relaxing. She feels Lynn's fingers in her hair,
and it's comfort, sweet comfort that she hasn't felt for years in her fuck-em-and-leave-em, attitude.
And she likes it, likes Lynn so much that she doesn't know what to do with this sort of thing.
So what did you do today? her sister doesn't say when she comes home.
I kissed a woman who I technically stalked with the hopes of getting a happy post-mortem reunion with her mother. Now, apparently, we're a thing. And you? she doesn't say back.
I slept with my old high-school boyfriend, father of my child, who threw me over for another girl. Again.
They eat and they keep on not-asking and not-saying things like I miss mom so much it's like an ache in my chest that I can't dispel until I can barely breathe.
Or at least that's what Norah would say. Rose has it together even when she's falling apart.
She'd felt like they had it when she was trestling. With the roaring above her, deafening, the sound crashing in her ears and overpowering. Trestling was sublime, an almost religious experience. But it'd all crumbled apart when she brought out the pictures. Then the house burned down and now everything's in pieces.
She comes into the blood bank, and it's not the first time she's been here. It's white everywhere, creepily sterile, so much that it reminds her of that horror movie she saw in an asylum. She puffs out her cheeks and breathes out a sigh. Lynn walks a stout man out and gives him a form. She points him over to the table where there's cookies and juice waiting. When she looks up and sees Norah, her expression, which previously was calm, turns dark.
"What are you doing here?" Lynn hisses. "I told you to never contact me again."
"Can't we just talk? I'm just trying to make things right. I'm sorry. Let's be friends," Norah says. She looks, pleading, for Lynn to see her part in this. She didn't mean for it to go like this. It's supposed to be a happy moment, it isn't supposed to go like this.
"Why do you continue to engage me? If you're not into me sexually or intimately, then what are you doing? I was really into you, and now I'm humiliated," Lynn says, her voice rough – has she been crying?
"Because I want to make this better – I don't want to leave it like this. I was just trying to make things better," Norah says.
"You can't fix everything," Lynn says flatly.
Norah bites her lip. There's probably lipstick on her teeth now. She doesn't care. She's the strong one, the hardened one, but Lynn is pulling out all the weak and awkward things that Norah has pushed back for years. It's a constant detox of a coming breakdown and Lynn's the first person she's talked to about this...since ever.
"I have to get to work," Lynn says.
She walks away and Norah lets out a long breath as she stares at the white ceilings.
Rose's life isn't hers, and with Lynn gone, there's nothing here to keep her around. Winston now watches Oscar nearly every week. They're becoming great friends.
So she takes the cat and some money and some of her things and leaves.
She thinks about Lynn in Arizona. Why was she in Arizona of all places? She wanted to go somewhere to sort it all out with the Deathcat right there with her, a little ghost of fur on her lap, purring the whole way. It likes riding in the car, to her surprise. It's a brave little thing, and it's been through so much. She pets it, idly as they drive.
There's more sand than she ever has needed in a lifetime. It's pretty when the sun comes up, or down, though, and all she can think about is the bridge that's been burned down to the ground now, all charred and ashes.
She gets all the way the outskirts of Phoenix before she turns around.
She knocks at the door and has never felt as awkward in her life. Not the time her skirt ripped in school and half the school saw her underwear, not the time she fell on a mattress a dead woman had been rotting on.
A half thought in her mind, forms, maybe she should say 'Pizza delivery!' or start with flowers or something to break the ice. It probably won't change Lynn's opinion that she's a creeper.
She hears the door lock, sudden and final.
"Listen, I'm sorry."
"Sorry doesn't cut it. I told you to go away!"
"There was something there," Norah says, her face to the door. She leans against it, and crumples to the floor. The welcome mat is rough and hard against her knees even through her thick jeans.
Lynn is silent. She wonders if she's even there or if it's like talking at a grave, if all this talking will do about as good as talking to a corpse. She tries anyways.
" I wanted to fix things with you and your mom since I can't fix them with mine. But, it wasn't just that... I went out to Arizona. Sand everywhere and I kept thinking about you. I think...I think I'm bi. Maybe even gay. I don't know."
She hears the safety chain come undone, but the door stays unlocked, like Lynn has her hand at the door.
"I felt really comfortable with you and I didn't know what to do with that. I still don't. It feels like you're the only person I can deal with this stuff around."
The door unlocks and it's just Lynn there looking down at her. She looks guarded, as if she might slam the door on her at any time.
"Hi," Norah says, she smiles, a sort of smile that is on the brink of crying and laughing.
"Hi," Lynn says. She pauses a moment before she continues. "You can come in.... If you want."
"Can I bring my cat too? She's still in the car."
Lynn chuckles, and the guardedness slips back until it's only faint past a growing warmth.
"Go ahead. I'm not allergic."
Norah smiles, and Lynn smiles, and there's this moment, like the moment when they kissed that Norah feels the start of something she doesn't know what to do with. But this time, she knows she'll learn.