As time went on, days turning into weeks and weeks turning into a month, Susan began feeling more and more like herself. She was happy, content even, two phenomena that she hadn't experienced together for a very long time, at least not in the truest sense of the words.
She startles, lashes blinking open quickly just a few moments before sleep was about to claim her, "Trina? Are you alright?"
It was early April, the middle of the pregnant woman's eight month, so she and Tom had been on high alert, walking on eggshells until the baby arrived. Neither of them wanted to upset her, especially once the worst of the swelling in her hands and feet had settled in less than a week ago.
Even in the dim light, Susan sees Trina frown, "The baby's fine. I just- did I do something to upset you?"
"What? Of course not. Why would you think that?"
"You've been avoiding me," she sighs, her voice on the verge of breaking, "and so has Tom. I know I've been a little hard to be around lately..."
"No!" Susan immediately protests as she rolls out of bed, "Well, yes, but it's not what you think. We just didn't want to upset you or do anything to make the baby come early. I guess we weren't as subtle as I thought."
Trina slumps into her arms, a quivering sob escapes her throat, "Thank God! I was so terrified I'd done something to upset both of you."
"Oh, Trina," Susan ran a hand through the woman's darker hair, the other rubbing up and down her back soothingly, "I'm so sorry."
They stood like that for a few minutes, until Trina's tears began to slow and her hormones came back into check. The house was quiet around them, almost too quiet, and despite the recent spring heatwave that had enveloped the city a lingering chill had settled in just after the sun set, reminding them that it wasn't quite summer yet.
Susan feels goosebumps rise across her skin and her fingertips automatically tightened their grip in the back of Trina's fluffy robe, "Come on, it's cold."
Trina didn't argue, simply let Susan guide her into the warm bed and slip in beside her. Carefully, she tucks the blankets around them and sighs softly when the younger woman rests her head in the crook of her neck.
"Are you going to be alright?"
Trina huffs against her collarbone, "You're so good for putting up with me."
A rush of emotion tickles somewhere deep in side of Susan and she reaches down, nudging Trina's chin up so that their eyes could meet, "Always."
A moment of meaningful silence passed between them, one where the only thing that broke their gaze was the tiny moment that she gives into temptation and glances down to Trina's lips. She would be lying if she said she hadn't seen it coming, hadn't felt their friendship turn into something slightly more, something arguably better than what they'd had before. But, now that the time was here, the time for her to make a move and let nature run its course, to give in, Susan suddenly finds herself completely terrified.
Her heart flutters rapidly in her chest, too scared to take that leap, to do anything. Trina, on the other hand, was watching her with a warm smile, cool and calm as she looks up at her from beneath wet lashes and puffy, red eyes. It gives her the confidence, the bravery, to run her fingertips across Trina's cheeks and soothe away any dampness that remains, mirroring Trina's smile with a nervous one of her own. Unsurprisingly, Susan's hand shakes as she cups the side of her face and the only thing left to do is take a deep breath and slowly bridge the gap between them, unable to resist that pull any longer.
What she feels as their mouths finally brush together is nothing at all like the kiss that she'd expected, it's better. In her dreams, on the rare occasion that they actually occurred, their exchanges are hungry and desperate, almost bordering on the side of rough, like they can't get enough of each other. In reality, Trina's lips are soft and tender under hers and when she doesn't push her away, not that Susan ever really thought she would to begin with, she's so grateful that she almost misses hearing the little moan that escapes from the back of Trina's throat at the exact moment that she dares to nibble at her bottom lip.
Susan's body warms slowly, like a cat sunning itself on a windowsill on a lazy weekend afternoon, and it isn't long before she feels Trina's hand slide up between her breasts and over her chest, fingers tickling affectionately along the side of her neck. It's a gesture not meant to tease, she knows that instinctively somehow, it's an offer of comfort and understanding, and the exchange leaves her feeling languid and content.
Smiling softly, Susan slowly tapers off the kiss and allows herself tug Trina closer, relaxing back into the bed. Their foreheads are just barely touching, resting side by side on a shared pillow, and Susan fidgets with a strand of Trina's hair before tucking it behind her ear and settling in for the rest of the night.
They'd talk in the morning.
And, talk they did.
It was slightly awkward, but Susan is amazed that she somehow manages to come out of it unscathed. They have an understanding between them now, one that they sealed with another kiss, not unlike the one that they shared the night before- full of passion, but subdued, neither feeling the need to push it any further.
The conversation that she has with Tom later that night is the one that really matters, though. Trina has gone off to bed early, exhausted after a long day, and the two of them are sprawled out on the couch together watching the Six Million Dollar Man when she decides to broach the topic. Trina had reassured her that morning that she and her husband had talked about it before, the possibility of feelings forming between the three of them, of including her in their marriage when or if the time ever came around, but the idea of even broaching the topic had left Susan's nerves on edge. Yes, she cares for them both, maybe even loves them, but she still wasn't sure if Tom would be as receptive to the idea without Trina there to moderate things between them.
"Tom, can I talk to you about something?"
He turns away from the television, running a hand through her hair with a soft grin and a curious look, "Of course. What's on your mind?"
Susan leans up from where she'd been laying against his chest and rests her head in her hand, "I- kissed Trina last night."
His forehead creases for a moment, like he'd been expecting her to bring up the weather or sports, anything but this, but at the same time he doesn't seem all that surprised, "I know."
"Trina told you on the phone earlier, didn't she?" she blushes, picking invisible lint from his threadbare t-shirt.
He nods, but remains quiet.
"The last thing that I want to do is come between the two of you," she says firmly, trying her hardest to reassure him, "You're both such amazing friends and you've done so much for me in the last six months. I'd never want to jeopardize our friendship in that way, I couldn't."
Tom huffs a silent chuckle and finally takes pity on her, her eyes widening when he tugs her down and kisses her softly. It was unexpected but warm and familiar, making her lean into the contact and deepen their kiss before she realizes what she's doing.
"You have nothing to worry about, Susan," he says as he breaks the kiss, and she just barely curbs the urge to lean back in, "Though I definitely appreciate your honesty, that took some guts."
Susan finds herself blushing again, "Well, you have an awfully odd way of responding after I admitted to kissing your wife."
He laughs, leaning up to catch her mouth with his, his mustache tickling her upper lip, "Touche. But then again, we've always been an odd couple."
There's a twinkle in his eye and it makes her sigh in relief. It's the same look that she's seen on him so many times before; the first time they kissed, then in the cabin right before Janet and Roger had shown up, and again that night at the disco when they came home with them to cool down in their pool. It's a mix of mischief and adoration, but this time there's something more, something new.
"You're really not mad?"
"No," he whispers, "I'm not mad."
"Then what are you?" she asks before she can think not to.
"I'm..." he ponders it for a moment, "happy."
"I'm happy for you, Susan. And, for us, if being with both of us is something that you might be interested in?"
Susan shifts against him, snuggling in closer even as her pulse skips a beat. She's not sure if she's nervous or simply excited at the thought. She hadn't allowed herself to even contemplate the possibility of the three of the being together, not until she'd gotten the chance to talk to him. She's said it once and she'd say it again, she wasn't going to chance screwing up their friendship.
"You mean like swinging?" she asks.
"Sort of," he explains, expanding on what she and Trina had talked about earlier that morning, "You're already living here, so whatever... interaction, platonic or otherwise, that we might have would be up to you. Whatever you were comfortable with."
She takes a shallow breath, trying to wrap her brain around it, "So you're saying..."
"That you could be our equal, in every way. If that's what you wanted."
Oh, she definitely wanted it, a little too much if you asked her. Susan had gotten used to enjoying the closeness between the three of them. She loved sharing the morning paper over breakfast, giving and receiving hugs from both of them every day, and the general lack of personal space that you only get when you truly know and trust someone. But she still craved more, and the fact that they were actually offering that to her seems to have temporarily thrown her for a loop.
"Take some time to think about it," he offers, wrapping his arm back around her until she settles down against him once again, "you don't have to answer right away."
She nods and lets her eyes slide shut, breathing him in as he went back to watching the end of the program.
It turns out that 'thinking about it' actually means allowing herself to be corralled into Tom and Trina's bed three days later after the pregnant woman whines about being uncomfortable. Apparently the remedy is having not one, but two warm bodies to wrap herself around as she falls asleep. Susan doesn't mind though, far from it actually. She hadn't slept this well in ages.
Everything goes well until nearly a week and a half into their nightly routine when Susan wakes out of a deep sleep and doesn't understand why. Then she feels Trina tense next to her, a small moan slipping from her lips.
"Are you alright?" she whispers, careful not to wake Tom.
The woman shifts again, rolling toward her until her belly is pressed into Susan's side, "I think I just had a contraction."
For a moment Susan forgets to breath. Then, without thinking, she slides her hand over Trina's stomach. She can feel the baby wiggling around, a tiny hand pressing into hers, and she smiles. It makes her breath again. This is natural, bound to happen at any time in the next two weeks, there's nothing to worry about. She just hadn't expected it to happen in the middle of the night.
"Has it happened before, or is this the first time?"
Trina burrows into Susan's shoulder and shakes her head, "No, that was the first time. I woke up about twenty minutes ago because of my back though, it's been sore since dinner."
"Why didn't you say anything?" she asks before she can stop herself.
"Because I didn't think it was anything to worry about, Susan" her lips brush against bare skin, making Susan shiver, "My back has hurt since December."
"Should we wake up Tom?"
"No," she mumbles, "let him sleep."
"You should try and get some sleep too. If you're going into labor you've got some time before we have to head to the hospital. You'll need your strength."
Trina doesn't protest. Instead, she reaches down and moves Susan's hand to her waist and wriggles around until she's comfortable. Once she's settled, Susan lets her fingertips rub lazily over the tense muscles, soothing her friend until she falls into a restless slumber.
Three hours later, Susan wakes again and this time she can feel the early morning sun struggling to shine its way through the blinds. Vaguely she hears Tom whispering quiet words to his wife and it's then that she realizes Trina has rolled over at some point during the night and her palm is now resting on the side of her stomach. She rubs her thumb against it and it takes her a moment to realize that something is off. The muscles are hard beneath her touch.
She inhales sharply, immediately awake, "Just breathe through it, Trina."
Leaning up as carefully as she can, Susan looks over the brunette's shoulder and smiles softly in sympathy when she sees the panic in Tom's eyes.
"You try breathing through it," Trina gasps.
Tom presses a kiss against her forehead, running his fingers through her hair and Susan moves to rub the small of her back. She's intimately familiar with the spot and feels Trina relax the tiniest bit the moment that she finds it.
Once the contraction ends, she sits up but continues rubbing her back in comforting circles, "How often have they been happening?"
"About once every fifteen minutes," Tom answers, "Think we should head to the hospital?"
He's and packing a bag within seconds.
Ten hours later, Allison Topaz Decker comes into the world with a tiny, squeaky cry and she's absolutely perfect.
Great-aunt Sally would have been proud, Susan thinks to herself as she stares down at the infant, brushing a finger over her chubby little cheek. Topaz won't be quiet so lonely anymore.
"I just don't understand why you're still living there, Mom."
It's the beginning of June, her sixth month at the Deckers', and she's balancing little Ally in one arm while she cuts up a pancake with the other. Both Tom and Trina are off at a fundraiser for the day and she has a standing breakfast date with Laurie every Saturday, so she hadn't hesitated about bringing the baby along.
"What do you mean?" she asks.
She knows what her daughter is referring to, the fact that she's still living with the Deckers and honestly, she hadn't really thought about it. Everything seemed so natural now, the three of them living together and taking care of the girl in her arms. It was kind of perfect.
"It's weird. I mean, don't you think it's weird? Living there. With a married couple," then she points to Ally, "And, you even brought along their kid to our breakfast? What's up with that?"
Susan frowns, "Watch your manners, Laurie. She may not be old enough to understand rudeness, but I most certainly am."
Laurie rolls her eyes and leans back in her seat.
"And, no," she continues, "I don't think it's weird at all. They're my friends. They took me in when I had nowhere else to go and they made me a part of their family."
"But, don't you think they want their privacy back? I know I would if I had someone living in my house that long."
Her frown deepens. Ally fusses in her arms and it only takes a few gentle rocks before she quiets again.
"Not that it's any of your business, Laurie, but no. I know for a fact that they don't want their privacy back," she says pointedly, and her daughter's eyes widen slightly.
She knows how uncomfortable it's made Laurie in the past, the open, swinging, free love lifestyle that the Deckers lived. But if she was mature enough to be in an adult relationship, then she was certainly old enough to not judge her own mother's life choices.
"Mom," she gapes, "are you and the Deckers... together? As in, dating together?"
Susan can feel her cheeks heat and her eyes drop to the beautiful baby girl sleeping in her lap. She's had more than enough time to think it over, two months worth of carefully weighing her pros and cons, and she might actually be ready to step past her fears and accept that her life would always be intertwined with Tom and Trina in one way or another, no matter what.
"I don't know," she answers honestly, looking up just in time to see the hint of a surprised grin on her daughter's face, "I think we might be."
Laurie leaves the topic alone after that and Susan exits the diner an hour later feeling a strange sense of contentment. It settles deeply within her entire body, leaving her loose and happy, almost carefree. But it's only when Tom and Trina arrive home that evening and she greets them at the door with a kiss, butterflies fluttering wildly in her stomach, that she realizes just how made up her mind really is.
They return her affections wordlessly, with small touches and lazy smiles, and eventually tug her down between them when they crawl into bed. The touching doesn't stop there though. They're gentle and thorough, and when she's sated and finally gets the chance to return the favor she doesn't hold back. It's one of the most freeing experiences that she's ever had and she finds it funny that it's not the first she's had within the four corners of their bed, and it probably won't be the last.
Sometime around midnight, Susan collapses against Tom's chest utterly exhausted. The sound of their voices, spinning wild tales from their swinging days, lull her into a peaceful slumber.
The last time that it happens Ally is almost six years old.
The little girl arrives home early from her fifth day of school in a tizzy about something, speaking wildly to her father as they walk together out by the pool. Her dark blond hair is frizzy from the humidity and falling out of her pigtails, but Susan finds it absolutely adorable and motions her over.
"How was school today, sweetheart?"
Ally looks up at her with her big, brown eyes and a pout on her face, "Timmy said that you weren't my mommy today."
Her heart just about stops beating. There's a moment where her stomach drops and her eyes dart over to Tom, who's smiling softly, and it's him who convinces her to plow on. They knew it would probably happen, not everyone is quite as accepting of their family as their friends have been, but she didn't think it would happen quite so soon.
"And, what did you do when Timmy said that?" she asks carefully.
"I told him that our family is special and that you are my other mommy," the girl frowns, her nose scrunching up just like Trina's did whenever she smells or eats something that she didn't like, "Then he stuck out his tongue and called me a weirdo, so I punched him in the face."
Susan's eyes widen, her jaw dropping open, "You did what? Allison Decker, that was not nice at all! What do we say about hitting?"
The satisfied grin that had appeared on the girl's face falls just as suddenly and her gaze shifts to the ground, "Violence is never the answer..."
"That's right," she says, running a palm over the crown of Ally's head before ducking down and meeting the girl's eyes, "Did you get him good, though?"
Ally blushes and giggles.
"Good. That doesn't mean you're not going without dessert tonight though. You know the rules."
She sighs, "Yes, momma."
"Now, go get changed into your bathing suit. BJ's coming over to go swimming with you."
"Really?" Ally's eyes light up, her afternoon and punishment all but forgotten.
"Yes, really," she chuckles, swatting her lightly on the hip to get her moving, "Go on, quick! He'll be here any minute."
Ally runs off into the house without another word and Tom slowly makes his way over. He's still wearing his pilot uniform and he looks tired, but she can tell that he's more amused than anything else.
He plops down onto the chaise lounge that she's sitting on and greets her with a kiss. It's slow and sweet, and a part of her dearly misses the feeling of his mustache brushing against her upper lip. She's never gotten used to his clean shaven face, despite the fact that he's kept it that way for the last two years. She missed his facial hair.
"I never thought I'd get called down to the principal's office again," he sighs heavily, "especially during my daughter's first week of school."
Susan smirks and runs her fingers through his hair, "Well, she is the product of you and Trina, that's for sure."
He laughs, groaning as he rubs a palm over his face, "I'm going to be spending a lot of time down at that school, aren't I?"
She nods, confirming that yes, Ally was going to be just as much of a handful as her parents were. Maybe even more.
It's nearly half past five and, with the sounds of BJ and Ally splashing around in the pool, Susan is busy cooking dinner. She doesn't hear Trina arrive home, instead she feels slender arms slip around her waist from behind and her spatula goes still for a moment, her body sinking into the embrace.
A pair of soft lips flutter over her neck, "I missed you."
Susan smiles and closes her eyes.
"I missed you too," she whispers, squeezing Trina's clasped hands with one of her own, "Did you have a good time?"
"I never thought I would say this, but I did. Who knew that a journalist convention could be so much fun?"
Susan grins and stirs the vegetables in the skillet before they ended up burnt, "Did Janet's panel go well? I know she was nervous about it, but I kept telling her that she had nothing to worry about. If there's one thing that she's good at, it's organizing, and she had more of those little note cards than I think I've ever seen in my life."
Releasing her, Trina snorts softly and leans her hip against the counter, stealing a sip of wine from the glass that she'd been nursing for the last half hour. Her face is slightly red like she'd been out in the sun and her long hair is pulled back into a lazy ponytail. She looks beautiful, but in a simple way, one that Susan has always secretly loved.
"She did so well, Susan. You would have been proud."
"Oh, I am. Believe me," she says, wanting nothing more than the best for her oldest friend, "But, you have something to be proud of too."
Trina's brow furrows, "Oh?"
"Oh yes," Susan starts, turning the burner off and setting the pan aside to cool, "It begins with Tom getting called down to Ally's school and ends with one of little Timmy's baby teeth being knocked out. Where do you want me to start?"
"Allison! What did you do?"