Set during Series Two Episode Six; Tash and Spike's wedding.
Susie and Caroline sat and watched the wedding festivities with long, miserable faces. To the rest of the guild it appeared to be normal behaviour from the snooty pair and dismissed them as being stick-in-the-muds. However, Susie and Caroline were each lost deep in thought. The crowd started to move and gathered to wave Spike and Tash off on honeymoon. Caroline saw her chance and discreetly reached out and squeezed Susie's hand, giving her their customary signal. Several moments later Caroline had Susie up against a barn wall and was kissing her tenderly. It was different to their usual heated exchanges, although there was no less passion. Caroline paused and caressed Susie's face, tucking a stray lock of blonde hair behind her ear. Her watery eyes glistened in the light from the setting sun.
"Susie, I..." The smaller woman looked up into the eyes of her lover, her own tears threatening to spill.
"No Caroline, please don't. Don't say anything you can't take back." Both women trembled in their embrace, fearful and nervous of what was to come.
"I cannot continue this way..." Susie's tears fell and her bottom lip trembled, a heartbroken wail ready and waiting on its very tip.
"Keeping up this pretence...it's too much..." Caroline ran her fingers over Susie's quivering lip before it became soaked with a flood of salty tears. The younger woman's face crumpled and she sobbed as quietly as she could.
"No, no, no Susie...I'm not...I love you!" Susie let out the breath she'd been holding and slid down the wall in an emotional heap. Caroline crouched down beside her and held her close as she calmed down.
"Do you really mean that?" Susie pulled away and looked up at Caroline. Her voice was cracked and came in a whisper. Caroline kissed her soundly but gently.
"Yes Susie, I love you. It's been you for years." That annoyingly unruly sliver of hair fell in front of Susie's face and Caroline couldn't resist tucking it back behind her ear again. Susie leaned into the intimate gesture for a moment before her face fell serious and she stood bringing Caroline up with her.
"Do you understand what you're saying Caroline? What it might mean for us, for the future?" Susie dared to look into Caroline's eyes, afraid that she might suddenly realise the consequences and runaway from everything, from her.
"To be perfectly honest I don't know. I just...the wedding...and you..." Caroline grabbed hold of Susie round the waist and held her in a tight hug.
"I'm scared Caroline, I don't want to lose you. But I'm also scared of what comes next, of the changes it will mean." Susie mumbled into Caroline's shoulder. The taller blonde nodded unconsciously. It was what she had been thinking too.
"Susie, do you think we should...talk to someone?" Caroline loosened her grip on Susie, but kept their embrace.
"Talk to someone about what?" A third voice entered their conversation and the two women froze. Tip scrutinised them closely, taking in their expressions and dishevelled appearance.
"Oh my God! You're...you're together?" Caroline let go of Susie and started to walk towards Tip, but she was held back by the smaller woman, who was surprisingly authoritative.
"We need to talk about this, but not here. I have the house to myself tonight, we'll meet there. 8 o'clock?" Tip nodded and Caroline could only looked confused.
"You must keep this to yourself Tip, please? Just give us a chance to explain." Susie pleaded as they heard the wedding guests beginning their goodbyes.
Susie gestured for Tip to follow her into the hallway, who took a few moments to have a look around. She had never been to Susie's house before and although it was smaller than Caroline's, it was certainly grander than the other houses in the village. Caroline was already seated at one end of the sofa in the living room when they arrived. Susie sat down closely beside her, as there was no need to hide anything from their guest, and held a hand in her own. Tip sat herself on the armchair a little distance away, pointedly noticing their clasped hands.
"So..." Tip began, not really knowing where to start.
"So..." Susie responded nervously, as Caroline let out an equally nervous cough beside her.
"How's long's this been going on then?" Tip thought she might as well get on and ask the things she'd been dying to ever since she'd found out about their relationship.
"Four years." Caroline replied in her usual direct manner.
"You mean to say that all this time...?" The two women opposite nodded.
"I think you'd better start from the beginning."
Caroline and Susie explained as honestly as they could about their initial close friendship which gradually turned into something more. About their respective marriages and how neither of them had had a proper relationship with their husbands in a very long time. And about how much of a strain the secrecy was beginning to put on themselves and their home lives.
"We don't know what to do; we don't want to hurt our families and we certainly don't want to become the 'lesbians of the village.' " Caroline stayed silent, content to let Susie take the lead in this situation. She admired that about her lover, how most people assumed that it was she who called the shots because Susie was less outspoken in public. When it was just the two of them Susie quite often was the one to initiate things.
"Ah, but you will be, for a time. Until some better gossip comes along at least. So what about John and Charles? Do they know?"
"John has some floozy in London that he thinks I don't know about. It suits me fine, but he doesn't know about my relationship with Susie."
"Charles knows that our marriage has broken down, but he has no idea about Caroline. It would be a complete shock for him."
"Well, that's where you start; you both have to tell them the truth. You owe them that much at least, before the village gossip beats you to it."
"Tip, you wouldn't...?" Susie exclaimed, although she couldn't honestly say she would have been surprised.
"No, of course not! But if the situation is as desperate as you say it is then how long before either of you make a mistake? What about earlier when I caught you? It could so easily have been Rosie and then it really would have been village gossip by now."